Trombley feeling better, despite sick loss

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Rochester bullpen short, too

its scorer is fired

June 26, 2000|By Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko | Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - Clear-eyed, shaven and in possession of an appetite, Mike Trombley declared himself fit for service after yesterday's 4-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

"I feel fine ... much better," Trombley said despite watching the Orioles' bullpen absorb its 17th blown save in 27 opportunities. "I don't know ... I probably could have pitched today, but Grover [Mike Hargrove] wanted to make sure I was strong enough. I'm still a little weak ... nothing bad."

Trombley hasn't pitched since June 17. During the team's cross country trip to Oakland, Trombley began feeling chills. By the time the team charter touched down, he was also sweating. Soon his appetite disappeared and for two days he was bedridden with what doctors diagnosed as strep throat.

"I've been through a pretty rough stretch, but I really feel now like I've come out of it. Now it's just a matter of making sure I've got my arm strength," Trombley said.

Trombley threw from a mound on Friday and Saturday before confining himself to long toss yesterday. Unfortunately, his availability might have been pivotal in an eighth inning that saw closer Mike Timlin surrender a game-turning grand slam to Mariners catcher Tom Lampkin. Under ordinary circumstances, Trombley, not Timlin, would have been summoned to face right-handed hitter Mike Cameron with two on and two outs. Timlin hit Cameron with his first pitch then lost the lead on his fifth pitch to Lampkin.

Due to Trombley's illness and Calvin Maduro's loss to the disabled list, the Orioles have played with no more than six and as few as five available relievers during an 0-7 road trip.

Help on the farm?

If Hargrove wants to share his bullpen misery, he can look no further than Triple-A affiliate Rochester.

Red Wings manager Marv Foley had to do some fancy maneuvering during Saturday's game against the last-place Richmond Braves. With his team trailing after seven innings but still within range of a comeback, Foley used two position players to close out a 6-3 loss.

Howie Clark, who has filled positions in the infield and outfield this season, allowed one hit and a walk in a scoreless eighth inning. And right fielder Wady Almonte got away with two hits while blanking Richmond in the ninth. It was the first time Almonte had pitched since he was a 15-year-old playing sandlot ball in the Dominican Republic.

Position players usually are called upon as a last resort to pitch in blowouts. Foley couldn't remember it being done in a game this close, but he had no choice.

Starter Rick Krivda, tied for the International League lead with eight wins, was finished after the third inning because of an 89-minute rain delay. Brian Shouse carried the game through the seventh, leaving Foley with two more innings and some difficult decisions.

Sean Maloney and closer Ryan Kohlmeier weren't options since they had pitched the previous night, and Matt Ryan was out with a lower back strain. The Orioles had recalled Gabe Molina on Thursday.

If they'd like to promote someone else to help their bullpen, the Orioles may want to consider Maloney or Kohlmeier. At least they'd been getting a hot hand.

Maloney, 29, a spring training invitee who's pitched for Milwaukee and Los Angeles in the majors, began yesterday having surrendered only two hits, walked one and struck out 14 in 9 2/3 innings since joining Rochester on June 3.

Maloney stayed behind at extended spring training before reporting to Double-A Bowie, where he allowed one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out nine.

Kohlmeier, given more ninth-inning opportunities with Molina in the majors, had five saves and a 1.04 ERA in his last 15 appearances before yesterday. He had allowed two runs and six hits, and struck out 24, in 17 1/3 innings.

Rochester scorer fired

Len Lustik, the official scorer at Rochester who was involved in a press box altercation with shortstop Jesus Garcia earlier this month, has been fired by the International League.

Lustik, 60, had charged an Ottawa infielder with an error on a ball hit by Garcia during a June 15 game in Rochester. Garcia, who opened the year as the Orioles' utility infielder, phoned Lustik from the clubhouse and later confronted him after the game. Press box attendants stepped between them after Garcia pointed a finger in Lustik's face.

Garcia received a three-game suspension from the Orioles. He has returned to the Red Wings' lineup, hoping to improve on a .228 batting average. He declined to comment on Lustik's firing when approached on Saturday.

League president Randy Mobley flew into Rochester on Friday to meet with Lustik, general manager Dan Mason and chief operating officer Naomi Silver. Lustik, who had been with the organization for 28 years, asked to remain on the job part-time until after the season, when he would resign. That request was denied."

"I'm bitterly disappointed," Lustik told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "All I'll say is I survived a lot of GMs who were dismissed in my 28 years."

Mobley said he interviewed "several witnesses" to the Garcia exchange before making his decision.

Lary Bump, a local free-lance writer, will replace Lustik for most of Rochester's remaining games. He apparently wasn't available yesterday, leaving club officials scrambling for an official scorer. The duty fell upon Joe Altobelli, the former Rochester player, manager and GM who's in his third year as a radio analyst. Altobelli, who managed the Orioles to their last world championship in 1983, did the scoring from the radio booth.

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