Oquist warmly recalled to help Orioles bullpen

April 26, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Tom Keegan contributed to this article

One by one yesterday, the Orioles made their way over to the locker space inhabited by their new teammate, pitcher Mike Oquist, to welcome him back to the big leagues from a short stint at Triple-A Rochester.

Lee Smith, Alan Mills, Jim Poole and Mark Williamson wasted no time in warmly greeting Oquist, with whom they'll be sharing space in theBaltimore bullpen.

"Hey, Oakie, I told you it wouldn't be long before I saw you again," said Williamson.

Then, finally, Brad Pennington, demoted to Rochester yesterday, came over to extend best wishes to his friend and colleague.

"It's tough," said Oquist. "I know Brad real well. We've played together for a while, and he's a good guy. It's tough, and I'm really sorry for Brad, but he's a tough individual and I'm sure he'll be back."

"I knew I was going down," Pennington said. "I understand this is the best thing for the team right now. I want to come back here. I really think we have a chance of being in the Series, and I want to be a part of that."

Pennington sat in the dugout for 25 minutes after Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners, in which he threw a bases-loaded wild pitch and then yielded a tape-measure home run to Ken Griffey.

"I wanted to leave that on the field, and I think I did," Pennington said.

Pennington will be used in long relief in Rochester in order to log more innings. He said he still views himself as a potential closer.

What is certain is that Oquist has arrived to provide some badly needed help to the beleaguered Orioles relief crew.

Oquist, who flew to Baltimore yesterday from Richmond, Va., where the Red Wings played over the weekend, was available last night, because his last start came on Friday and his next scheduled start was to be tomorrow.

"I'd be resting right now, but I'd rather be here," said Oquist, who will be used as a long reliever, though his stay in the bullpen might not be permanent.

Manager Johnny Oates, asked if he would consider using Oquist to replace Arthur Rhodes, who has struggled in his three starts, in the rotation, said: "Have I? Yes. Would I? Yes. We'll just wait and see."

Oates went on to defend Rhodes, but Oquist, a 25-year-old right-hander who appeared in five games last season with the Orioles in two stints, apparently is capable of starting in the majors.

Oquist, who pitched well in spring training, striking out 14 and walking three in 19 2/3 innings to an ERA of 2.75, was one of the last players cut.

"It was close, and I knew it was going to be close," said Oquist. "I thought it would come down to me and a couple of other guys, and I was sitting there with all these [minor-league] options."

Oates said there were other options for the bullpen spot at Rochester, including John O'Donoghue and former Boston Red Sox reliever Tom Bolton, who could have filled the left-handed void left by Pennington's departure.

But Oquist made the best of his demotion, giving up three earned runs in 16 1/3 innings covering three starts with the Red Wings, leaving Rochester with a 3-0 record and a 1.65 ERA.

"I never let myself get out of shape, just for the simple fact that things could change," said Oquist. "It [the demotion] wasn't a big shock for me. I just tried to keep doing what I was doing."

Said Oates: "I told him that the team doesn't go with the same pitchers all year because of injuries and other situations. The idea is, when we call, to be the guy they recommend, and he was the guy they recommended. He deserved a chance to come back."

PITCHER SWITCH

Comparison of stats for Mike Oquist, who was called up by the Orioles yesterday, and Brad Pennington, who was sent down to Rochester:

Oquist.. .. .. W-L.. .. .. ..ERA.. .. ..BB.. .. .. .. SO

Rochester.. .. 3-0 .. .. .. .1.65 .. .. 4 .. .. .. .. 16

Pennington.. ..W-L .. .. .. ERA .. .. ..BB .. .. .. .. SO

Orioles ... .. 0-1 .. .. .. 10.95 .. .. 9 .. .. .. .. 14

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