Minors not major deal for Rhodes

SIDELIGHT

August 06, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Arthur Rhodes has but one request of the Orioles, and that is to let him keep pitching every fifth day, even if that means sending him to the minor leagues if the strike starts Aug. 12.

"I want to go back down," Rhodes said. "I want to keep pitching, stay on a nice rhythm. I asked my agent to tell the Orioles that. It's a crucial time for me now. I'm in a nice groove, and I don't want to stop pitching. If I stopped now, I would have to redo everything."

The rules allow teams to reduce their rosters to 24, but no lower than that, according to Orioles assistant general manager Frank Robinson.

"That's something we will discuss in the next day or so," Robinson said of sending Rhodes down during the strike. "It would be great for him to continue to pitch. That was the idea when he went down in the first place, to pitch regularly. It would be silly for us to let him sit for two weeks or a month or so."

Reliever Armando Benitez "falls into the same category," said Robinson, but in order to send both pitchers down, someone would have to be called up.

Rhodes, 25, makes the second start of his third 1994 stretch of duty with the Orioles tonight at County Stadium against the Milwaukee Brewers in the third of a four-game series.

Rhodes tossed his second career shutout in his last start, a seven-hit, 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Rhodes (2-5, 7.01) went 6-3 for Triple-A Rochester under the tutelage of pitching coach Steve Luebbers, who moved Rhodes to the left side of the pitching rubber. From the right side, xTC Rhodes said, his slider was breaking out of the strike zone.

"The main thing was I got to throw every fifth day," Rhodes said. "That helped me out a lot. Up here, you don't know when you are going to pitch, when you are going to sit down. You might pitch two days from now. You might not."

With that in mind, Orioles manager Johnny Oates decided against moving Rhodes' final pre-strike start up a day so that he could pitch against the New York Yankees, who are more successful against right-handed starters than left-handers.

In his four starts that have come on four days' rest, Rhodes has compiled a 4.07 earned run average.

"It makes a big difference," Rhodes said.

A big difference is what the Orioles saw in Rhodes when he returned from his most recent stretch at Rochester.

"To me, that was his best game overall in the major leagues," Robinson said of Rhodes' start Tuesday in Minnesota. "I'm not talking about numbers. I'm talking about how he looked on the mound. He looked to be in complete control on the mound. It was gratifying to see the progress he had made."

After pitching tonight, Rhodes is scheduled to make his next start Thursday at Camden Yards, the last game before the strike is set to begin.

He has been optioned to the minor leagues after making starts before. If he is again, the difference this time will be that he will welcome it.

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