Maduro returns, but staff stays at 11

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Bauer sent to Rochester for steady work

Hairston feels twinge of pain on flip

April 08, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Wanting to create roster space while also providing steady work for one of their top pitching prospects, the Orioles optioned Rick Bauer to Triple-A Rochester yesterday and activated Calvin Maduro from the disabled list.

The move still leaves them with an 11-man staff despite earlier indications that the Orioles would increase it once Maduro was recovered from a strained forearm muscle.

"It'll get back to 12. Trust me on this," manager Mike Hargrove said. "I've got so many names on pieces of paper the last few days. There is a plan."

It appears a little murky right now. Marty Cordova is eligible to return from a strained quadriceps muscle on Friday, and the club will make another roster move. But swapping position players won't affect the pitchers.

If the Orioles return Bauer to the majors, it most likely would be as a starter. He made six appearances last season after a September call-up, and his stock rose despite losing all five decisions. The Orioles scored only eight runs while he was on the mound and were held to one run or fewer in four of his starts.

Bauer joins Sean Douglass, John Stephens, Travis Driskill and Jay Spurgeon in the Red Wings' rotation. Bauer is scheduled to start Wednesday.

He made one appearance with the Orioles this season, throwing three shutout innings in Friday's loss to Boston.

"All outings like that do is reinforce your belief that his time is coming," Hargrove said.

"What time that will be remains to be seen, but it certainly is coming and coming fast."

Hargrove said the decision to send down Bauer wasn't a difficult one "for the simple reason that we really feel very strongly that Rick Bauer has the ability to pitch in the big leagues, but it doesn't do Rick any good to pitch out of the bullpen and throw one or two innings every two to three days.

"We think that for Rick to really realize what he has out in front of him and what he has to offer this ballclub, he needs to pitch and get innings."

The Orioles need to resolve their surplus of catchers. Asked if the position might be affected when Cordova returns, Hargrove said, "That's in the mix."

Another possibility is sending down outfielder Luis Garcia, who hasn't appeared in the first six games. He was signed out of the Mexican League during the winter to provide minor-league depth, but made the club out of spring training because the Orioles wanted Larry Bigbie to play every day at Rochester rather than sit on the bench.

Awkward toss is a pain

Second baseman Jerry Hairston played all nine innings after a quick visit from trainer Richie Bancells in the fourth.

Hairston made a lunging grab of a low liner from Trot Nixon for the first out. Attempting to double up Tony Clark at second, Hairston felt a twinge in his right shoulder while flipping the ball to shortstop Mike Bordick.

"My right arm came forward [on the catch] and I tried to lift it up and throw, and that's an awkward motion. I'm so strong, the muscle got in my way," he said, grinning.

"I'm not used to doing that motion. I'm all right."

Don't call it slump, yet

When Boston's Hideo Nomo no-hit the Orioles in last season's second game, it seemed to throw the club into an offensive funk. Hargrove has noted the lingering effect from that night many times.

Hargrove doesn't see one individual pitching performance this season that's responsible for the Orioles' current difficulties at the plate. And he insisted again yesterday that it's too early to make an issue over them.

"There are other clubs that are struggling swinging the bats right now. We obviously are one of them," he said.

"Months from now, if we're still doing this ..."

By then, the Orioles hope to have a better response to the offerings of pitchers such as David Wells, Mike Mussina, Derek Lowe, Frank Castillo and Pedro Martinez -- five starters who held them to one earned run and 13 hits in 33 1/3 innings.

"We've faced some pretty good pitching," Hargrove said. "Is it a matter of the quality of pitching that we're facing or the fact we're not swinging the bats real well? I think it's the quality of the pitching."

"Plus, some of the guys we're counting on are real anxious right now, jumping at the ball and doing some things you'll do early in the season."

Report: Angelos to bargain

Orioles owner Peter Angelos, a sometime-critic of baseball's labor strategy, is joining the commissioner's negotiating team, the Chicago Tribune reported today.

Citing an unnamed major-league source, the Tribune said Angelos will be formally introduced as a member of the bargaining team today.

More than bats are cold

The Orioles' bats remain cold.

So does everything else at Camden Yards.

The game-time temperature of 46 degrees on Saturday afternoon was the lowest ever for the first pitch at the 10-year-old ballpark. The previous low was 47 degrees for a night game on April 10, 1996, against Cleveland.

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