Segui going on DL to open O's bullpen gate for Towers

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Hand injury examined

DeShields: trade talk OK

Notebook

April 28, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS - The Orioles solved one problem while being faced with another yesterday. It's expected that pitcher Josh Towers will be added to the roster as a much-needed 12th pitcher today when first baseman David Segui is placed on the disabled list because of a week-old hand injury.

Segui returned to Baltimore after Thursday's game in Detroit and was examined yesterday. Manager Mike Hargrove could not confirm a roster move, but said an announcement "probably" would be made today. Meanwhile, yesterday's lineup included Towers' name but omitted Segui though Towers had yet to be notified of a promotion.

Segui suffered the injury last Sunday against Tampa Bay when his right hand was trampled during a slide into second base.

Stitches were not required to close a laceration, but the force of shortstop Felix Martinez's foot landing on the hand may have affected a tendon in Segui's middle finger. The Orioles' cleanup hitter had not regained movement of the digit when he left the team.

Towers, 8-6 with a 3.47 ERA last season at Rochester, was targeted for a call-up before injuring himself in a domestic accident. He challenged for a berth in this season's rotation this spring, but his lack of command prevented him from unseating Chuck McElroy as fifth starter.

Towers, 24, is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts at Rochester, where he has struck out 17 against five walks in 28 innings.

The anticipated move would give the Orioles 12 pitchers for the first time this season while addressing a shortage of long relievers that became apparent during Thursday's 8-2 loss to the Tigers. Rookie Jorge Julio was asked to make his major-league debut during the seventh inning with the Orioles down only 4-2. Julio walked the first batter he faced on four pitches and committed an error on his first fielding chance en route to allowing two earned runs in one-third of an inning.

Towers would inherit the long relief role vacated by Willis Roberts when he was added to the starting rotation. McElroy is expected to soon revert to left-handed long relief.

The need for an expanded staff is especially acute given the Orioles are in a stretch where they play 13 straight days. Hargrove described the decision to replace Segui with a pitcher as "a layup."

"I think that helps a lot," said pitching coach Mark Wiley. "We're in a stretch where we're going to need a fifth starter. This not only gives us another guy to look at, it also adds to our flexibility."

On Wednesday, the Orioles reluctantly asked B. J. Ryan to stretch out for 3 1/3 innings. Eleven pitchers leave them especially vulnerable in extra innings though they've yet to be bitten.

"Adding a guy gives us the flexibility to take a shot and still have a guy who could conceivable go five or six [innings] in case of extra innings," said Wiley.

Should Towers be promoted, it likely starts the clock on vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift's trade or release of catcher Greg Myers. It is unlikely the roster would revert to 11 pitchers, especially given Sidney Ponson's return early next month from elbow tendinitis.

DeShields unfazed by rumor

Trade talks between the Orioles and Montreal Expos concerning center fielder Milton Bradley are serious enough that the Oriole most likely involved, Delino DeShields, recently received a heads-up from a friend familiar with the situation.

"I've heard some things," he said. "I'm not that surprised."

The Orioles have longstanding interest in Bradley and the Expos are a club Thrift has comfortable dealings with. He traded third baseman Ryan Minor north for Julio last winter. Whether the club is willing to eat a portion of DeShields' $4.33 million salary remains the biggest variable.

"I'm going to be a free agent at the end of the season. And since nobody with the club has talked to me about anything beyond this year, I figured my name would come up in trade talks," DeShields said. "Nothing would surprise me."

DeShields did not deny he would be open to a deal that might allow him to find a more competitive situation. The small-market Expos entered yesterday two games below .500, the same as the Orioles, but were in second place in the upside-down National League East. DeShields also played for the Expos from 1990-93.

"I'm in my 12th year in the big leagues," DeShields said. "I'm going to be in a situation where I can move after this season anyway. If it happens, it happens."

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