Released Bones falls with rain

Orioles cut pitcher, citing velocity, stats

make room for Linton

`I'm upset and disappointed'

Warmed up before rain, Ponson to pitch Game 2

August 21, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Needing to clear a roster spot for Doug Linton, the Orioles gave pitcher Ricky Bones his outright release after last night's game against the Chicago White Sox was postponed because of rain. It will be made up today as part of a day-night doubleheader.

Bones, 30, is free to talk with other clubs, but can't sign with anyone until Tuesday.

"It's one of the more difficult things in the world to do," said manager Ray Miller. "Maybe not necessarily on a performance level, but when you're talking about such a quality kid and a great worker. He'd do anything in the world for you. But statistically he wasn't getting the job done for us."

Bones, who signed a one-year contract in December worth $800,000, was 0-3 with a 5.98 ERA in 30 games, including two starts this month. He allowed 59 hits in 43 2/3 innings, and the opposition was batting .322.

Of greater concern to the organization was a drop in Bones' velocity. He went on the disabled list July 2 with a tired arm and never returned to the form that had made him the club's most dependable reliever in April.

"We thought with the layoff that when he came back, he would bounce back, but the velocity is at 88, 89 [mph]," Miller said. "You look at the situation and say, `Can you do better next year?' If you think you can, then you need room on the roster right now. You need to move somebody in. That's what we decided to do. It's a very tough thing."

Bones cleared waivers this month and general manager Frank Wren tried to work a trade, but couldn't find any takers.

"I told him, `Just because you're released and nobody made an offer for you or claimed you on waivers doesn't mean that someone won't take you,' " Miller said. "It's just that when you're an older pitcher and a club thinks you might be released, why would they trade anyone for you when you'll be on the open market? I'm sure Ricky will surface somewhere."

Bones said he'll remain in Baltimore for a few days and make some calls before possibly returning to his home in Puerto Rico. He had appeared in six of the Orioles' first 10 games, and his ERA stood at 1.54 after he turned in 4 1/3 shutout innings against Tampa Bay on April 20. He allowed just one run in his next two appearances covering five innings before his ERA gradually began to rise.

He was used twice as the fifth starter this month, allowing six runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. In his final appearance, he tossed a scoreless ninth inning Thursday against Minnesota.

Bones said he had "an idea" he might get released. Another option would have been sending left-hander Doug Johns to Triple-A Rochester until rosters expand on Sept. 1.

"You never want to think that way," Bones said of being let go, "but you look around and we needed to make a move. That's their decision. I'm upset and disappointed, but that happens. I've got to move on. Maybe somebody's going to need a pitcher. If not now, then maybe next spring training. I know I'm healthy. I know I can pitch.

"Maybe when I got my tired arm and people came in and did their job, maybe they lost their faith a little bit, their trust in my pitching."

Bones suggested being used so much in April -- he appeared in nine of 22 games and warmed other times without coming in -- might have caused him to run into a period when he became fatigued. But Miller, citing how Bones' 30 games this season covered only 43 2/3 innings, said: "I don't think we over-pitched him."

Bones is the fourth player released by the Orioles since near the end of spring training, joining catchers Chris Hoiles and Lenny Webster and reliever Heathcliff Slocumb. They began the year making a combined salary of $6.35 million.

Looking around the clubhouse, Bones said, "This is a quality group of guys. I had fun until now."

The postponed game has been rescheduled for 1: 05 p.m., with tickets from last night being honored. The second game will start at 7: 05 p.m.

Ponson was scheduled to pitch last night, but never got the chance. The tarp had been removed at one point with the assumption that the game would begin at 9: 10. Ponson did a full warm-up, but it began raining again and the Orioles soon had their first home postponement in two years.

Miller and pitching coach Bruce Kison decided Ponson would benefit from getting the extra rest afforded tonight's Game 2 pitcher.

"We tried the best we could not to warm Ponson up," Miller said. "It looked like there was a window of an hour and a half, but I guess the window closed. The fact we got Sidney all the way through, we decided by pitching the second game, Sidney would have more recoup time. He can sleep in a little bit.

"It's not like he pitched an inning, but he got himself good and loose. It's like he had two sidelines. He'll be fine."

Orioles today

Day-night doubleheader

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site: Camden Yards

Game 1 time: 1: 05 p.m.

Starters: White Sox's John Snyder (9-8, 6.00) vs. O's Doug Linton (0-1, 6.17) TV: None

Game 2 time: 7: 05 p.m.

Starters: White Sox's Mike Sirotka (8-10, 3.66) vs. O's Sidney Ponson (11-8, 4.10) TV: Ch. 54

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM) both games

Tickets: About 1,500 remain

End of the line

Since coming off the disabled list after the All-Star break, Ricky Bones pitched to a 7.36 ERA in his last six appearances.

D Opp IP H ER BB SO

7/18 NYY 2/3 3 3 1 2

7/30 Sea 2 1 0 0 1

8/3 *Oak 2 2/3 7 4 1 2

8/8 *Det 3 2/3 3 2 1 1

8/14 Cle 1 0 0 1 1

8/19 Min 1 0 0 1 2

Tot. 11 14 9 5 9

*-Starts

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