Pennington wants to work it out Inactivity no cure for woes, he says

August 06, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

Orioles manager Johnny Oates, pitching coach Dick Bosman and reliever Brad Pennington all say that there's nothing wrong with Pennington that more work wouldn't take care of.

Oates and Bosman would doubtless like to get Pennington to the mound to sharpen his skills, except for two big factors.

The first is the effective pitching of middle men Alan Mills, Todd Frohwirth and Mark Williamson.

But the second reason Pennington has been on the shelf is his ineffectiveness, which was on display during this week's series with the Milwaukee Brewers.

"I know I can get batters out up here [in the major leagues]," Pennington said yesterday. "I just need to get some work."

The rookie left-hander has proved in his first full major-league seasonthat he can get big-league hitters out. In his first 19 appearances, he allowed only 10 hits and four runs in 19 1/3 innings, an ERA of 1.86.

In those heady early days of the season, Pennington was crisp, especially against left-handers, who had difficulty catching up to his fastball.

But in his past nine appearances, Pennington has slipped badly, giving up 14 earned runs, 17 hits and four home runs in 6 1/3 innings for an ERA during that span of 19.89, which ballooned his overall ERA to 6.00.

The performances this week have been particularly troubling for Pennington.

On Tuesday night, with a six-run cushion to play with, Pennington made his second appearance in 21 days, but was tagged for three runs and was one batter away from moving the game into a save situation.

In Wednesday's game, Pennington entered in the ninth, retired two of the first three batters, then loaded the bases before giving up a grand slam to the Brewers' Kevin Seitzer to reduce the Orioles' lead to 8-6.

Oates brought on closer Gregg Olson to get the last out, but in the two nights, Pennington had allowed six hits and five runs.

"[Wednesday night] I felt like I was comfortable and looking at the tape of the night before, it looks like I was in a little bit of a crouch and I wasn't bringing my leg high enough," said Pennington.

Neither Pennington nor Bosman could find anything mechanically wrong with his delivery after watching films

yesterday, so the answer, as best they can tell, is rust and a slight lack of confidence.

"I can easily tell myself that this will pass and I'll get over it, but getting out there and pitching well would prove it," said Pennington. "When you've built up enough saves and blown saves, I guess you understand that you grow through times like this."

Bosman said: "Everybody has a crisis of confidence out there and there are no panaceas. We just have to keep working things out in the bullpen. Things have a way of working themselves out."

Oates said: "It's just a lack of pitching. He's the kind of guy who needs to pitch regularly. He'll handle it."

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