Kingsale promoted after latest shuffle of club's roster

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Outfielder hears news on way to breakfast

Julio sent to Bowie

May 04, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Outfielder Eugene Kingsale was headed to breakfast before catching a flight to Indianapolis early yesterday morning when Triple-A Rochester manager Andy Etchebarren tracked him down.

"Did anyone get hold of you?" Etchebarren asked.

Kingsale had no idea what was coming next.

He would accompany the Red Wings to the airport as planned, but his flight wasn't going to Indianapolis. Kingsale had been recalled by the Orioles, with reliever Jorge Julio returning to Double-A Bowie in the latest change to a roster that remains in motion.

Kingsale and Julio shared something else in common besides the transaction: Neither one was performing at peak form at the time their paths crossed.

Kingsale was batting .242 (24-for-99) in 25 games, with eight doubles and four RBIs. A 2-for-28 slump in his past eight games had taken a large chunk out of a .310 average. Julio, who had appeared in only four games above Single-A before his promotion on April 24, carries a 33.75 ERA to Bowie.

Julio allowed a three-run homer to Tampa Bay's Ben Grieve in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game at Camden Yards - his second appearance with the Orioles. In his debut, on April 26 against the Detroit Tigers, Julio allowed two earned runs (three total) in one-third of an inning.

He blew away Eastern League competition as the Baysox's closer, but he couldn't locate a fastball with the Orioles that has topped out at 101 mph. By constantly falling behind hitters, he took a beating similar to the ones received while going 2-10 at Single-A Jupiter last season.

"We weren't able to get Julio more than two games," said manager Mike Hargrove. "I think we all agree he has outstanding stuff and will be an outstanding major-league pitcher at some point. We just wanted to get him some regular work.

"He knows exactly what he needs to work on. We got a chance to see him at the big-league level, and I expect him to come back and be a good major-league pitcher."

To borrow Julio for less than two weeks, the Orioles had to use up a spot on their 40-man roster. They acquired him from the Montreal Expos for infielder Ryan Minor during the winter meetings and converted him to a closer after his repeated failures as a starter at Jupiter. He wasn't expected to reach the majors this quickly, but the Orioles were thin in the bullpen and went with a hot hand that proved too unsteady.

Kingsale had appeared in 67 major-league games before last night, with his first promotion coming in 1996. He led the Orioles with a .400 average in spring training (20-for-50) while tying Mike Kinkade for the club lead in games with 26.

"Eugene fits the bill because he gives you speed off the bench," Hargrove said.

He's also the only switch-hitter while David Segui remains on the disabled list with a hand injury.

"I was a little surprised," Kingsale said. "I didn't know who got hurt or whatever. And as a team, we weren't doing that great. We had an eight-game losing streak and it was tough. The team was kind of down. The good thing was I'd always keep my head up."

Kingsale gives the Orioles an extra outfielder with Jeff Conine and Jay Gibbons needed at first base to replace Segui. He also can be used as a pinch-runner in the late innings, with speed remaining his greatest asset.

"Whatever they need, I'll be glad to do it," he said. "There are a lot of things I can do."

The Orioles promoted former No. 1 pick Darnell McDonald to Rochester as Kingsale's replacement.

Ponson makes rehab start

When Sidney Ponson makes his injury rehab start at Double-A Bowie tonight, it will mark his first appearance with the Baysox since going 2-7 with a 5.42 ERA in 13 games in 1997. He tossed 15 shutout innings in his first two appearances and was honored as the Eastern League's Player of the Week before the losses piled up and a sore elbow put him on the disabled list and limited his availability the rest of the summer.

So much for fond memories.

Ponson is scheduled to pitch four innings tonight in his first game since going on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis. He was eligible to return Tuesday, but the Orioles wanted him to face some hitters before activating him.

"I didn't want to go, but they sat me down and told me, and they know better than I do," he said. "Get it over with and come off sometime next week."

Ponson has thrown on the side three times, with the sessions lasting 10 to 12 minutes. He has progressed from throwing all fastballs, to mixing in a changeup, to using all of his pitches.

Segui optimistic

Segui said he hopes to swing a bat within the next few days while recovering from a hand injury that has kept him out of the lineup for almost two weeks.

Segui went on the disabled list retroactive to April 23 after Tampa Bay's Felix Martinez stepped on his hand as the Orioles' first baseman tried to break up a double play in the ninth inning of a 10-8 victory at Tropicana Field. Martinez's spikes sliced the tendon, and Segui still has some swelling on the knuckle of his middle finger.

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