Worrell's 1st save is O's spot

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Reliever makes roster

Erickson throws off mound for 5 minutes

Reyes rises

March 28, 2000|By Roch Kubatko, Joe Strauss and Peter Schmuck | Roch Kubatko, Joe Strauss and Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Orioles announced yesterday that they had purchased the contract of veteran reliever Tim Worrell, which means that he has made the club's 25-man Opening Day roster.

Worrell had an agreement with the club that required a decision on his status with the team by yesterday. He has been one of the most effective relievers in camp, with a 2-1 record and a 1.38 ERA, so it was not a particularly difficult organizational decision.

"Tim is a veteran major-league pitcher who knows how to get people out," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He has come up with a new pitch [a knuckle curve] that we think will be a plus for him. We just think with him in the bullpen we're a better ballclub."

High-five for Erickson

Pitcher Scott Erickson took another significant step in his 24-day-old rehabilitation from arthroscopic elbow surgery yesterday when he threw for five minutes from a mound. The milestone comes as good news while concern mounts over the readiness of several other starters. Erickson, who Worrell had initially targeted his return as May 1, might be on pace to return by late April.

Erickson will next attempt to throw tomorrow for slightly longer. Erickson, who only attempted to throw at about 70 percent yesterday, will not attempt breaking pitches for two more weeks. His schedule remains subject to change should there be swelling or inflammation in his right elbow.

Having set Friday as his "talk" day, Erickson did not comment on yesterday's session, which was watched closely by pitching coach Sammy Ellis and instructor Mike Flanagan.

Reyes finds old groove

It took most of the spring and may have cost him a spot on the roster, but reliever Al Reyes apparently has found the solution to his pitching woes.

Don't do anything different.

Reyes has gone back to the same delivery he's used for most of his career, rather than continuing with an experiment that blew up in his face. Out with the new, in with the old.

Before allowing a run in two innings in yesterday's game in Fort Myers, Reyes had put together two straight scoreless appearances covering two innings.

Prior to that, he had allowed 12 hits and walked six in 8 1/3 innings.

If nothing else, Reyes has given Hargrove more to consider when finalizing his bullpen plans.

"I'm just trying to make this team," Reyes said. "Whatever decisions they're making, that's their decisions. I can't do anything about it. But while I'm with this team I'll try to help them all the way."

He's been more equipped to do that lately.

Reyes, under the watch of Ellis, had tried to stay back a little longer in his windup before going toward the plate. It never felt right, he said. It never brought the desired results.

"Now I'm pitching the way I feel comfortable," said Reyes, who came to the Orioles from Milwaukee last July for Rocky Coppinger. "Sammy told me to go back to my old mechanics and that's what I started doing. Now I'm able to concentrate on pitching and not worry about my mechanics.

"I've been pitching the way I pitch for a long time. It's hard to change."

Wayne's world

When Wayne Kirby showed up in Fort Lauderdale last month, he had one major advantage over the competition for the job of extra outfielder and pinch hitter: a track record with Hargrove. He was going to be given a fair shake this spring. The rest was up to him.

Kirby has 38 at-bats, a significant total for someone who had been hitting .118 with a .206 slugging percentage until going 2-for-3 in Sunday's game in Jupiter. It didn't seem possible that he'd find room on the 25-man roster, but the uncertainty that surrounds center fielder Brady Anderson has at least breathed some life into Kirby's chances.

Hargrove mentioned Kirby, 36, as one alternative if Anderson begins the season on the disabled list because of a nerve irritation in his left leg. Rich Amaral and Eugene Kingsale are two others. And Hargrove seems convinced that Delino DeShields could play center field if needed.

"I don't even think about all that," Kirby said. "I just go out there and if I'm in the lineup I play the best I can. That stuff's still a little ways off. Brady's still got eight or nine more days to find out. It doesn't matter to me. If it's my call, I'll be ready."

Kirby spent parts of six seasons with the Indians beginning in 1991. Manager and player know each other well.

"It helps a lot," Kirby said. "I've been around this game long enough that Mike knows I'm going to be ready any time he asks me. I'm always going to be on time. I'm going to be a leader, too. He knows that."

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