Bowie demotion turns into O's promotion for Wings catcher Molina

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

On move, he does U-turn as insurance with Gil hurt

Notebook

May 04, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Izzy Molina was prepared to report to the Orioles' Double-A affiliate in Bowie, a drop in minor-league classification brought on by his .133 average and an excess of catchers at Triple-A Rochester.

So imagine Molina's surprise when told that he was going up, not down. That the Maryland-based team he would join yesterday carried a little more clout than the Baysox.

The Orioles purchased Molina's contract after optioning pitcher Josh Towers to Rochester, giving them insurance behind the plate while Geronimo Gil nurses a strained left groin and right hamstring. Brook Fordyce made his fourth consecutive start, going 0-for-2 to drop his average to .032. An injury before Molina's arrival would have pushed utility infielder Mike Moriarty into emergency duty.

"I haven't caught since I don't know when. Maybe high school," Moriarty said.

Molina had agreed to join Bowie after another Rochester catcher, Mike Hubbard, resisted the assignment and indicated that he'd rather be released.

"There was talk of it," said Molina, who was 6-for-45 in 14 games with the Red Wings. "They asked me to go and I thought long and hard and said, `I may as well go down and do them a favor.'"

The Orioles chose not to bring up Fernando Lunar, who began the season with them, for fear of losing him on waivers when attempting to return him.

"We feel very fortunate that we were able to get him through once. We don't know that we'll get him through twice," said manager Mike Hargrove. "He needs to play."

This isn't Molina's first stop in the majors. In parts of three seasons with the Oakland Athletics, most recently in 1998, Molina batted .203 in 68 games.

"Even if this lasts a week or a month, it's still the big leagues and it beats Triple-A," he said.

Bauer meets challenge

Pressure has come in different forms for Orioles pitcher Rick Bauer since his first promotion to the majors last September.

There were six starts in 2001, including Cal Ripken's final game at Camden Yards. And the spring audition to fill the opening at the back end of the rotation, when he was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA but couldn't wrestle the job from Calvin Maduro.

And then came Thursday night's game against the Royals, when Bauer was summoned with two outs in the eighth inning and the tying run at the plate. He induced a ground ball from Dave McCarty to preserve Sidney Ponson's lead, and breezed through the ninth for his first major-league save.

"It obviously shows they have confidence in me. [It] gives me more confidence that they have faith in me when the game's on the line, runners are on and big hitters are up," he said. "It makes it easier for me to go out and do my job instead of worrying about what my role is."

Who is this guy?

In his 10th professional season, Orioles pitcher Travis Driskill hasn't been around long enough to be easily recognized in his home ballpark.

Dressed in street clothes after Thursday night's game, he had to convince a guard to let him back into the clubhouse. With no identification and only one Orioles appearance since being called up April 25, he could have passed for a fan or, worse, a member of the media.

"It happened to me again today," he said. "But if that's part of being up here, I'll take it."

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