There's a familiar face on the outside looking in at the Orioles' starting rotation.
Arthur Rhodes is the odd man out -- again.
Just when it appeared that injuries to Kevin Brown and Ben McDonald and the ineffectiveness of Sid Fernandez had given him a toehold on a regular job, Rhodes' position is in jeopardy again. The acquisition of Scott Erickson and the imminent return of Brown and McDonald most likely will result in a return trip to Triple-A Rochester for Rhodes.
In fact, it's a move the Orioles might consider making immediately.
Even if he stayed in the rotation, Rhodes wouldn't make another start in the big leagues until a week from Monday.
And, given the performance Jamie Moyer has turned in lately, the only chance Rhodes has of starting a game any time soon would be a setback to Brown and/or McDonald. Once the Orioles are certain those two will return next weekend against Kansas City, they can be expected to make a move with Rhodes.
With Fernandez relegated to the role of mop-up duty, there isn't a useful spot for Rhodes in the bullpen. And it would be detrimental to keep him idle.
Since his return from Rochester, Rhodes has demonstrated substantial improvement. Under different circumstances, the Orioles could justify keeping him in their starting rotation indefinitely.
But the arrival of Erickson eliminates that possibility.
If the Orioles send Rhodes back to the minor leagues now, he can continue to pitch in a regular rotation, which is vital at this point in his career.
Because of the All-Star break, manager Phil Regan will be able to rearrange his rotation. The plan now is for Mike Mussina to be followed by McDonald, Moyer, Erickson and Brown.
In the meantime, Rhodes could make two starts before any possible assignment with the Orioles. Then, if there is any further breakdown on the big-league staff, he at least would have benefited from taking his regular turn.
The same is true of Rick Krivda, who gave the Orioles a huge boost with his performance against the White Sox on Friday night. There's no reason for him to hang around, other than a possible relapse by the Orioles' two ailing starters.
Krivda, who previously had been dropped from the 40-man roster, undoubtedly improved his stock with the Orioles. He also improved the club's trade possibilities.
In all of the trade discussions involving the Orioles and some of their prospects, Krivda's name hadn't even been mentioned. Until now.
Considering the added value that left-handers tend to carry on the open market, Krivda's first major-league start should create some interest -- from the Orioles as well as the other 27 big-league teams.
At the moment, however, there isn't room in the Orioles' rotation for Krivda or Rhodes. That's bad news for them, and good news for Rochester.