AH Lefty-handed Poole is right man for job, too Because of...

Orioles notebook

September 08, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

AH Lefty-handed Poole is right man for job, too Because of his quiet demeanor and his role as setup man, left-hander Jim Poole is the kind of guy who manages to avoid notice.

That is, unless he gives up a hit or walk in a critical situation. But Poole has been effective enough to avoid the attention of nearly everyone except his manager, Johnny Oates.

"I've seen it all year long," said Oates. "I think Jimmy's more than a one-hitter pitcher. I have no problem using Poole at any time."

It hasn't always been that way. Before this season, Poole, who hTC came to Baltimore in 1991, primarily would enter the game in the later innings to pitch to tough left-handed hitters and then depart.

But Poole, who is 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA, has been effective against virtually all hitters this year, giving up just one hit and four walks over his last 8 1/3 innings, covering nine appearances in the past three weeks.

Opposing batters are hitting just .141 with runners on base, the second-best mark in the league. Overall, left-handers are hitting .171, and right-handers are hitting .145.

Oates undoubtedly would like to use Poole in longer situations. He sent him out in last Friday's 13-inning game at Oakland for 3 1/3 innings, his longest stint of the year.

But without a veteran left-handed long reliever, Oates is understandably wary of giving Poole more work for fear of not having him available in tight, late-inning situations.

Last night he pitched a flawless two-thirds of an inning.

Fernando tonight

Fernando Valenzuela takes the mound tonight still hoping to give the Orioles a big September to make up for a dismal August. He struggled in his first start this month, giving up four runs and six walks in 4 2/3 innings of a 13-inning, 5-4 victory over Oakland.

"I'm throwing OK," he said, "but I haven't been doing my job. I hope that it's a new month and things will be different. It's no fun when you aren't winning, but the team has been playing well."

The Orioles can only hope Valenzuela's pennant race experience will be a help down the stretch. He was on division title-winning teams with the Los Angeles Dodgers four times during the 1980s.

"That's hard to say, but I think if I feel good, I have a chance to help the team," he said.

Sutcliffe on the mound

Oates said starter Rick Sutcliffe would likely pitch a combination batting practice/simulated game today.

Sutcliffe, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee two weeks ago, threw from the mound yesterday and took some fielding drills.

"It's amazing how much better I feel," said Sutcliffe. "I can get out there on it and not have any feeling afterward."

Oates said Monday there was a possibility that Sutcliffe might get a start in Boston next week.

But where do you put him?

Third baseman Leo Gomez has been a victim of the solid play of Mike Pagliarulo and Tim Hulett.

Gomez, who returned from the disabled list last week after a two-month stay, played last Thursday for the first time since July 7, but hasn't played since because Hulett and Pagliarulo are performing so well.

"It's not so much what he's not doing, but what the other guys are doing," said Oates.

Good words on Oquist

Oates said the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings' presence in the International League playoffs wasn't causing any difficulty in terms of getting needed players onto the expanded 40-man roster.

"We'll probably make some calls when they're through, but we're OK," said Oates. "I can't get everybody I've got in there now."

One player who is certain to be called up once the playoffs are over is pitcher Mike Oquist, who earned praise during an August call-up.

Oquist, a right-hander who was 9-8 with a 3.50 ERA, pitched a one-hitter in Rochester's 4-0 opening-game win over Ottawa.

"I've liked Mike to a degree since spring training," Oates said. "He picked Chuck Carr [of the Florida Marlins, who leads the National League in steals] off second with runners on first and second base and nobody out."

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