Bauer gets reprieve as Maduro's backup

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Demoted pitcher recalled, but injured starter feels `perfect' day after workout

Orioles

March 27, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Exercising the right to change their minds, the Orioles have recalled pitcher Rick Bauer from their minor-league camp and could bring him north as a replacement for injured starter Calvin Maduro.

Bauer was included among the March 19 cuts and reported to Sarasota, Fla. He's become an insurance policy in case Maduro, who went on the disabled list with a strained forearm muscle, can't take his scheduled turn on April 7.

Maduro threw in the bullpen Monday and played catch with reliever Buddy Groom yesterday. He reported no pain and again insisted that he'll pitch.

"I was concerned yesterday about how I'd wake up today after my bullpen [session], but it felt good. It felt back to normal," he said. "But I cannot take advantage of it yet and just start going crazy. I have to take it easy. But I felt perfect."

The Orioles had reduced the competition for the fifth starter's job by sending out Bauer and Sean Douglass, who were supposed to join the rotation at Triple-A Rochester. Bauer's arrival might be delayed, with his status to be determined once the club returns to Baltimore following Saturday's final exhibition game in Louisville, Ky.

"If Calvin's not ready to come off when the time comes, then obviously we've got Bauer there to fill that slot," manager Mike Hargrove said.

"I don't anticipate there being a problem, but we're not sure. And just to be better safe than sorry, we're going to go this way."

The Orioles still intend to begin the season with 11 pitchers, since the fifth starter won't be needed until the second week. Once Maduro is activated, the staff most likely will expand to 12.

Bauer was 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two "A" games. He made six starts for the Orioles last season, including Cal Ripken's final game. "I didn't expect to be back any time soon, but it's nice," he said. "I'm just curious what my role's going to be."

The Orioles also reassigned outfielder Chad Allen, third baseman Jose Leon and catcher Izzy Molina to the minor-league camp.

With Tony Batista entrenched at third, Leon had little chance of making the club despite batting .344 with a home run.

Molina and Mike Hubbard were signed this winter to provide catching depth in the minors. Allen still hasn't fully recovered from last year's knee surgery.

No rust on Segui

David Segui made his first appearance yesterday since straining his left Achilles' tendon March 15 against the New York Mets. Serving as the designated hitter in a 10-5 victory over the Montreal Expos, he singled on the first ball thrown to him. He also singled in the fourth and came around on Jeff Conine's triple.

Trainer Richie Bancells rates Segui as being 85-90 percent healed, according to Hargrove.

"David looked fine," Hargrove said. "When I took him out of the ballgame, he said he felt fine and wanted to continue. But I said, `Let's not push it.' "

Bale encouraged, too

Left-hander John Bale completed his second bullpen session on Monday, throwing all of his pitches for about 12 minutes. His arm felt good afterward, but it usually does.

It's the following day that always worries him.

An encouraging note was struck yesterday when Bale got through the morning without being revisited by the same stiffness.

"I feel great. There's no soreness today," he said.

Bale is hopeful of getting into a game, perhaps as early as today, while trying to survive the last cuts. He's made only three appearances this spring - not the preferred way for a reliever to make a team.

"It's better to back off a little bit and get ready for the season than try to get into a couple [exhibition] games," he said.

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