Hargrove using closer by committee


Timlin's recent failure spurs manager's switch to 'combination of guys'

June 29, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Eighteen blown saves in 28 chances was enough for Orioles manager Mike Hargrove to make a statement yesterday concerning his bullpen. The task of closing games, he said, no longer will fall upon one individual.

"We'll use a combination of guys," Hargrove said before last night's game against the Boston Red Sox. "I don't have anybody in that role. Just be prepared to get the people out that we ask you to get out."

Mike Timlin was signed to a four-year, $16 million contract in November 1998 to get them out in the ninth inning. He recorded 27 saves last season, but tied for the American League lead with nine blown saves. He was 18-for-19 in the second half.

After beginning this year on the disabled list, Timlin has gone 2-3 with a 5.04 ERA and seven saves in 11 chances. He couldn't hold a 2-0 lead Sunday, hitting a batter to load the bases before Seattle backup catcher Tom Lampkin hit a grand slam to hand the Orioles a 4-2 loss.

By then, Hargrove had seen enough. He used Timlin to begin the eighth inning of Tuesday's game in Boston, with the Orioles trailing 1-0. He was removed in the ninth with two on and two out. Left-hander Chuck McElroy walked Darren Lewis to load the bases before Mike Trombley retired Jose Offerman.

The Orioles rallied to tie the game in the ninth and scored six times in the 10th to end their nine- game skid. Trombley, who saved 24 games for the Minnesota Twins last season, was credited with the win. Left-hander Buddy Groom picked up his third save by getting the last out in the 10th after Alan Mills surrendered a two-run homer to Nomar Garciaparra.

Timlin blew a save last night, too, allowing a game-tying RBI double in the seventh inning.

"This doesn't mean that [Timlin] won't be put in save situations," Hargrove said. "It just reached a point where enough time was given and I didn't see any consistent results. It may very well be that we go back to one closer."

The acquisition of Mills from the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this month has given Hargrove more flexibility to use a late-inning committee, an arrangement that he'd prefer to avoid.

"The easiest thing is to have one guy be the closer," he said. "We're trying to have roles defined and stay consistent. But you've got to have people do their jobs consistently."

Reliever Holmes acquired

The Orioles made a minor- league deal yesterday that could impact their bullpen, acquiring reliever Darren Holmes from the St. Louis Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate in Memphis for future considerations.

Holmes, 34, will report to Rochester. He's 33-29 with a 4.29 ERA and 58 saves during a big-league career that began with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1990. He also has pitched for Milwaukee, Colorado, the New York Yankees and Arizona.

His best season came in 1993, when he saved 25 games for the Rockies. Last season, he was 4-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 48 2/3 innings with Arizona.

Holmes appeared in four games with the Diamondbacks this season, getting one save but compiling an 11.57 ERA in 2 1/3 innings. He was released by Arizona on April 28 and claimed by St. Louis a week later, building a 9.72 ERA in 8M-- innings with the Cardinals before being designated for assignment May 28.

Maduro to get 2nd opinion

Reliever Calvin Maduro, on the disabled list for a second time with a sprained ligament in his right elbow, will be examined by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., sometime next month to receive a second opinion on a magnetic resonance imaging test taken in Baltimore last week.

Maduro had been activated June 20 and pitched twice before going back on the disabled list because of tightness behind the elbow. The discomfort became evident while facing his last batter, Oakland shortstop Miguel Tejada.

Hargrove said Maduro will be shut down for an indefinite period.

Another shot for Minor

Ryan Minor was watching television Tuesday night when he saw a replay of Cal Ripken's 10th-inning at-bat, the one that ended with him bent slightly at the waist at first base after running hard on a ground ball. Minor didn't give it much thought at the time, but then came the phone call the next morning.

Once again, he was headed to the majors.

Minor was recalled from Triple- A Rochester yesterday when Ripken went on the disabled list. He was batting .257 (49-for-191) with seven doubles, a triple, 12 home runs and 38 RBIs in 54 games. Since June 5, he was hitting .308 (24-for-78) with six doubles, seven homers and 17 RBIs.

"I had no idea. You never expect Cal to get hurt," said Minor, who was 0-for-3 last night with a walk. "I still don't really know what's going on. They just told me to get here, and here I am."

This is Minor's second stint with the Orioles this season. He replaced an injured Will Clark on the roster May 3 and had a pinch-hit, run-scoring single in Toronto.

Minor forever will be linked to Ripken after replacing him in the lineup on Sept. 20, 1998, the night baseball's Iron Man ended his record consecutive-games streak at 2,632.

"Fans still yell when Cal's not in the lineup. A ball goes into the outfield and I'll hear, 'Cal would have had it.' But it's to the point now where I look at this as an opportunity to play," Minor said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.