Erickson set to pitch in against N.Y.

Veteran ready to make first start of season

Molina demoted again

May 05, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles activated Scott Erickson from the disabled list after yesterday's 8-5 loss to Anaheim and optioned reliever Gabe Molina to Triple-A Rochester.

Erickson will make his 2000 debut tonight in New York after throwing seven shutout innings at Double-A Bowie on Sunday. Manager Mike Hargrove said he'll "play it by ear" when it comes to how long his No. 2 starter stays on the mound.

"We'll look at Scott as the game goes," Hargrove said. "Certainly, we don't want to take him too far. Scott likes to stay in the ballgame and finish what he starts, which is commendable, but there comes a point and time when you have to say, 'Enough is enough.' I don't see taking him much over 120, 125 pitches."

Erickson had arthroscopic surgery on March 3 to remove bone chips from his right elbow. He made two rehab starts in the minors and convinced club officials that his velocity and command were suitable for a return to the 25-man roster.

Yesterday's move put Molina back on the yo-yo string that takes him from Triple-A to Camden Yards. He didn't appear in a game since his second recall on April 28. He's still sitting on one outing, on April 7 against the Detroit Tigers, when he surrendered a three-run homer in the ninth inning.

By keeping Molina, the Orioles might have avoided using one of his options. He still has two left because his recalls this season have come within 20 days. But they chose to use former starter Jose Mercedes out of the bullpen and give Molina another view of Rochester.

Remaining idle in Baltimore rather than throwing in the minors "has its good side and bad side," Molina said. "The good side is it's nice to be up here. The only bad side is not being able to pitch on a regular basis. I like to be out there all the time, pitching every other day, or at least as much as possible. I just haven't gotten the opportunity here."

When Molina joined the club again last month, it was seen as a temporary assignment. Once Erickson was ready to rejoin the staff, Molina would get bounced. That's how the writing appeared on the wall, though the right-hander said he was told he might stick around.

"Mike Hargrove said, `You know the situation. When Scotty comes back, we're going to have to make a move. But it doesn't necessarily have to be you,'" Molina said. "Then I had a meeting with [pitching coach] Sammy Ellis and he basically told me it's not set in stone that I'm going to be the guy who gets sent down. He said I was just as good as the other guys out there in the pen, and that I had good stuff."

Lewis fills in for Ripken

Mark Lewis broke into professional baseball in 1991 as a shortstop. It wasn't until four years later, while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, that he was exposed to the challenges of playing third base.

Yesterday, Lewis discovered something else: What it's like to fill in for future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, who was given the day off.

Lewis made his second start with the Orioles since being signed off waivers from the Reds on April 26. The other came at second base, when he replaced Delino DeShields and smacked a two-run double, drew a walk and made a diving catch to rob Texas' Rubin Mateo.

So what about trying to fill the Iron Man's shoes?

"If you're asking me if I'm Cal Ripken, no," Lewis said before the game. "Cal is one of the greatest to ever play the game What he's accomplished is mind-boggling. If I go out there and try to play like Cal Ripken, I'm in trouble. I'm just going to go out and do the best Mark Lewis can do, and hopefully that's good enough."

Lewis went 0-for-4, including a strikeout to end the third inning and leave the bases loaded. There was less room for frustration in the field. The Angels didn't hit a single ball to him.

Hargrove said he chose to rest Ripken coming off a night game, and with another night game upcoming in the Bronx. That presented Lewis with his latest chance to demonstrate his versatility, this time at the hot corner.

"You really don't have time to think over there. You just react," he said.

Lewis was appearing in his fifth game with the Orioles, only six fewer than he got into with the Reds this season.

"I'm happy. That's all you can ask for is a chance to play," he said.

Tryouts for ballboys, girls

The Orioles are inviting high school students ages 16 and older to an open tryout for ballgirls and ballboys during the 2000 season. The tryout will be Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m., at Camden Yards.

Interested candidates are asked to dress casually, bring their own glove and enter through the Home Plate Plaza entrance at the southwest corner of the ballpark.

Candidates will fill out an application and have a chance to field grounders. To be chosen, they must be available to work throughout the remainder of the season.

For information: 410-547-6074.

Around the horn

Catcher Willie Morales, who began the season as Charles Johnson's backup after Greg Myers went on the disabled list, flew to the club's minor-league complex in Sarasota, Fla., yesterday to get some at-bats before reporting to Triple-A Rochester. Morales is on the disabled list with a hyperextended left elbow. ... Harold Baines moved past Ripken into 25th place on baseball's all-time RBI list with 1,590.

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