Bolton is left out no longer

SIDELIGHT

May 07, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

Tom Bolton was more than a little surprised and more than a tad disappointed not to be on a major-league roster coming out of spring training, after seven fairly successful seasons in the big leagues.

However, he received a pretty nice present for his 32nd birthday yesterday from the Orioles: a call-up to the majors.

"The first day I got to Rochester, we took a seven-hour bus ride," said Bolton. "You have seven hours to appreciate the way things used to be. It [the difference between the minors and the majors] is obvious on the first and the 15th when you get paid."

Bolton, who was called up Thursday from the Triple-A Red Wings to take the roster slot of Arthur Rhodes, will get his chance to earn his major-league pay pretty quickly as the second left-handed reliever in the bullpen.

"This is a perfect chance to see what he can do," said manager Johnny Oates. "Who knows what may come out of this? He's pitched in the big leagues before."

Bolton, who has a career major-league record of 30-32 with an ERA of 4.53, pitched well for Detroit last year, going 6-6 with a 4.47 ERA.

Bolton made 43 appearances during the season, dividing his time as a spot starter and a reliever. He went 5-2 in his eight starts, including a sparkling effort on Aug. 8 against one of his former teams, Boston, where he gave up one run and five hits in eight innings in a 5-1 Tigers win.

Bolton figured to make the battered Detroit pitching staff again this year, but surprisingly was cut March 15, after giving up just one hit in his only appearance.

"If I had pitched badly or had had a bad spring, then I could understand what happened," said Bolton. "Detroit was a place I liked. I guess it was a case of being the odd man out."

However, Bolton discovered that his release may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The Nashville native said a number of clubs contacted him about signing, but only the Orioles followed through with a firm offer.

He pitched fairly well with the Orioles through the rest of spring training, but was sent to Rochester March 29, where he performed well, allowing five runs in 12 appearances with a 1-0 record, the win coming Wednesday night against Pawtucket.

During his stint at Rochester, Bolton said he got reintroduced to an old friend, his changeup, a pitch that had served him well in earlier times, but one he had shelved in later years.

"It's tough if you're trying to work on things up here," said Bolton. "It [the Rochester assignment] put me in a situation to bring the changeup back. I also got some work in on the breaking ball. Without those two, it's tough for me to be successful. It wasn't the situation I wanted, but it worked out. I made the best out of it."

Just in case you were wondering, especially since Bolton hails from a musical town, he does indeed have a brother named Michael.

But . . .

"My brother Michael can't sing a lick."

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