Trade bolsters Orioles' bullpen Right-hander Mathews acquired from Marlins

August 22, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

The Orioles addressed their need for experienced relief pitching yesterday by trading for veteran right-hander Terry Mathews.

The Orioles acquired Mathews from the Florida Marlins for a player to be named. The Marlins will be able to pick that player from a group of five, and Florida sources said the club already has a specific player in mind. The Marlins have until Oct. 31 to make their pick.

Mathews, 31, made 57 relief appearances, ninth most in the National League, for the Marlins, going 2-4 with a 4.91 ERA. He brought a career 12-9 record and 3.91 ERA into this season.

Mathews, who will report to the Orioles today, is a burly fastball/curveball pitcher who is eligible for arbitration at the end of the season. The Orioles had good reports on him and believe he has great stuff but must improve on his consistency. Mathews had cleared waivers, as must all players involved in deals after the trading deadline.

"We just think that with his experience and past service, he's a guy who can stabilize our bullpen," assistant general manager Kevin Malone said. "He can take some pressure off some other guys. He's going to help everyone else."

General manager Pat Gillick said with right-hander Roger McDowell gone for the year with a shoulder injury and left-hander Arthur Rhodes unable to throw for at least two more weeks, he wanted a veteran in the bullpen. Two other recent additions, Archie Corbin and Mike Milchin, have little experience in the majors.

Most likely, Esteban Yan or Nerio Rodriguez will be sent down to the minors today to make room for Mathews. Rodriguez was in Single-A most of this year and has less experience than Yan, who has pitched at Double-A and Triple-A. But Yan has struggled at times throughout his career, whereas Rodriguez has known nothing but success since being converted from catcher.

The demotion of one of those two players could be significant, because only players on the roster before Sept. 1 will be available for postseason play. To make room for Mathews on the 40-man roster, Double-A pitcher Aaron Lane was moved to the 60-day DL after undergoing elbow surgery.

Orioles manager Davey Johnson saw Mathews pitch extensively in the NL last year, when he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and was impressed.

"He's got a live arm," Johnson said. "A little slurve-type, breaking ball. He throws in the 90's and wants the ball. He doesn't mind what situation he's in. I tried to get him in Cincinnati the last couple of years and I was told he's basically untouchable."

Johnson said the Orioles inquired about Mathews in spring training but were told they could not get him. Johnson said he will use Mathews in a set-up role. He was the Marlins set-up man last year but former Orioles prospect Jay Powell is flourishing in that role this season.

The Orioles' bullpen could be shaping up with Armando Benitez possibly ready to return from the DL this weekend. Benitez threw two innings of one-hit ball last night in his first Triple-A rehab appearance, allowing no runs, no walks and striking out one. However, Johnson said he still would like to make some additions to the team.

"I think you can never get too much pitching in this game," Johnson said. "We're always out there looking. . . . I think we still might do some things, but what I don't know at this point. I'd like to maybe expand the roster, either within our system or without, with another right-handed bat or possibly another pitcher."

Mathews' stats

Yr. .. Cl. .. W-L .. ERA .. .. IP .. H .. .. ER

'91 .. Tex. . 4-0 .. 3.61 .. 57.1 .. 54 . .. 23

'92 .. Tex. . 2-4 .. 5.95 .. 42.1 .. 48 . .. 28

'94 .. Fla. . 2-1 .. 3.35 .. 43.0 .. 45 . .. 16

'95 .. Fla. . 4-4 .. 3.39 .. 82.2 .. 70 . .. 31

'96 .. Fla. . 2-4 .. 4.91 .. 55.0 .. 59 . .. 30

Totals .. . 14-13 .. 4.05 . 280.1 . 276 . . 126

Pub Date: 8/22/96

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