NEW YORK - The Orioles promoted two of their top pitching prospects from the minors yesterday to bolster an exhausted bullpen, recalling right-hander Rick Bauer from Triple-A Rochester and left-hander Erik Bedard from Double-A Bowie.
The moves were made necessary Monday, when starting pitcher Jason Johnson couldn't make it out of the second inning and long reliever Chris Brock went down with a shoulder injury.
The Orioles placed Brock on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and made room for a 12th pitching spot by designating third catcher Fernando Lunar for assignment.
Bauer, who earned the win in relief last night against the New York Yankees, and Bedard are considered important parts of this franchise's future. There has long been a belief that each needs regular work as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues. But Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations, and manager Mike Hargrove said their current big-league stints don't have to be temporary.
"If they pitch well," Hargrove said, "they'll stay here."
Bauer, 25, began the season with the Orioles but was sent back to Rochester on April 7, when starting pitcher Calvin Maduro came off the disabled list. Two days earlier, Bauer held the Boston Red Sox scoreless on three hits over three innings.
Bedard, 23, was 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in two starts for Bowie and said he was stunned when he learned he was going to the big leagues. Even after a solid spring training in big-league camp, he thought the soonest he would be back was September.
"Never in my right mind," he said, "did I think I'd be here now."
Hargrove said he would try to keep Bedard in the less-demanding role of long reliever, but he also said Bedard and Bauer would need to be flexible.
Bedard got the promotion over right-hander Sean Douglass, who was unavailable to pitch yesterday after starting Monday's game for Rochester.
"Bedard's a pretty tough kid mentally," Thrift said. "And that's what you really have to go on, not just the physical things: fastball, curveball, changeup."
Second baseman Jerry Hairston said his strained left groin felt well enough to play last night, but Hargrove kept him on the bench for the fifth straight game in favor of Melvin Mora.
Entering the game, Mora's on-base percentage was .531, compared with .206 for Hairston, but Hargrove said it came down to making sure Hairston is healthy.
"When a guy has an injury like this, and they say they're ready, I most generally like to give them one more day," Hargrove said. "Obviously the way Melvin's going makes it a little easier to do."
The Orioles have 10 days to either trade Lunar or hope he clears waivers, at which point they could send him to Rochester. Lunar has played in just two games as a defensive replacement.
"We were holding off making this move just because, for some reason, we didn't feel like we needed that 12th pitcher now," Hargrove said. "We knew eventually we would get to the point where we would need it. But we were ready to make a move whenever it happened."
Lunar took the news in stride.
"It was no surprise for me," he said, "because I knew something was going to happen."
Around the horn
Marty Cordova was back in the lineup at designated hitter after missing Monday's game and returning to Baltimore for tests on his right hip flexor. Cordova was found to have mild tendinitis and was cleared to play. ... Hargrove said he is ready to use Rodrigo Lopez in a late-inning relief role after using him in long relief to this point.