Blister hindered shaky Julio


Closer struggled Friday

he didn't reveal ailment

April 28, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Orioles closer Jorge Julio took a five-run lead into the 10th inning here Friday night and turned it into one of those edge-of-your-seat thrillers.

With the bases loaded and Mike Sweeney waiting on deck, Julio got Carlos Beltran to ground out, clinching the Orioles' 10-5 victory at Kauffman Stadium.

Still, it wasn't exactly the kind of performance Orioles manager Mike Hargrove was looking for two days after officially naming Julio the closer.

Turns out, Julio had developed a finger blister on his pitching hand while warming up in the bullpen and didn't tell anybody. This flustered Hargrove, who had to squirm through Julio's 33-pitch inning.

"I told him, `You've got to tell people because if that's the case, then you don't pitch, especially with a five-run lead.' " Hargrove said. "The reason we brought him in is we scored four of those five [10th inning] runs with two outs.

"So it was still a save situation until the end. We just didn't have time to get anybody up. But had we known he had a blister, we would have turned the ball over to [Rick] Bauer."

Hargrove said Julio wasn't available to pitch last night and will probably need a couple days for the blister to recover.

"If he's 30, he probably doesn't do that," Hargrove said of Julio's decision Friday night. "But he's 23."

More X-rays for Segui

David Segui had more X-rays taken on his left hand yesterday, and like the ones taken Friday night, they showed no broken bones. He left Friday's game in the seventh inning after injuring the hand sliding into home plate four innings earlier, when Royals catcher Brent Mayne came down on Segui's hand with his shin guard.

The initial X-rays showed no broken bones near Segui's knuckle, but he went back yesterday to check on swelling in his left palm area, near the hamate bone. Segui, who has missed three games this season, is listed as day-to-day, Hargrove said.

Johnson's plan

Jason Johnson, who broke his right middle finger working on his pitching mechanics Thursday, will be in a splint for a total of two weeks and likely won't begin throwing for three weeks.

Before pitching again for the Orioles, he will need to make at least one minor-league rehabilitation start, said Syd Thrift, the team's vice president for baseball operations. So the Orioles don't plan on having him back in the rotation until late May, at the earliest.

Orioles sign Arias

Looking to bolster their utility infielder position, the Orioles signed former Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alex Arias to a minor-league contract.

Arias, 34, hit .226 in 70 games for the San Diego Padres last season and was sent to the Seattle Mariners along with catcher Ben Davis in the December trade that brought Brett Tomko to Seattle. The Mariners released Arias this spring.

The Orioles currently have utility infielder Mike Moriarty on their bench, but he entered yesterday with just five at-bats. Arias is a career .266 hitter and could potentially replace Moriarty.

"It's invaluable to have a part-time players and pinch-hitters with experience rather than rookies because it's a very difficult job," Thrift said.

Arias began working out at the Orioles' extended spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., and will report to Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday.

Thrift said his staff will need about a month evaluating Arias play every day at Rochester before determining whether he's ready to come back to the big leagues.

"It'd be nice to have that extra player, if he can produce," Thrift said. "This is for us to determine whether he can be productive or not. He knows that and we know that."

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