Hargrove confident Julio's still the man

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Reaction to blown saves encourages manager

May 16, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND - Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said Tuesday's loss was one of the toughest in his recent memory, and he was eager to see how the club would respond last night, especially closer Jorge Julio.

The Orioles took a three-run lead into the ninth inning on Tuesday, only to see the Cleveland Indians rally for a 6-5 victory, capped by Matt Lawton's two-run, walk-off home run off Julio.

It marked the second time in three games Julio had surrendered a ninth-inning lead and given up a walk-off home run. Pitching coach Mark Wiley talked with Julio after the game, and Hargrove waited until yesterday.

"The kid was clear-eyed, and looked me in the eye and said all the right things," Hargrove said. "He didn't show any signs of despondency or panic. He said all the things and looked the way you'd want a kid to look after a game like that."

Julio threw predominantly fastballs to Lawton, just as he had to Tampa Bay's Randy Winn on Saturday night. Hargrove said Julio might need to start throwing more sliders to left-handed hitters.

"He's 23 years old, and he's learning on the job," Hargrove said. "Those are things that we've talked about, and there's nothing better than practical experience."

To a man, the Orioles have lent support and encouragement to Julio, who has converted seven of 10 save opportunities and still boasts a 2.70 ERA.

"We definitely feel confident he can be our closer," second baseman Jerry Hairston said. "The next 10 outings, he can have 10 saves. He really came in [yesterday] in an upbeat mood, and we don't expect anything less. We get a lead in the ninth, he's going to be out there again."

Segui struggles again

David Segui was back in the lineup yesterday after missing three straight games with cartilage damage in his left wrist. Hargrove, who waited until after batting practice to make the decision with Segui, said he supports Segui's desire to seek a second opinion about the injury.

"Maybe we'll know more once that happens," Hargrove said. "I don't think we want this thing to linger on."

Segui went 0-for-4 and is now hitless in all three games he's played since May 2.

Point of contention

When Cleveland pitcher Danys Baez threw behind Mike Bordick in the sixth inning Tuesday, home plate umpire Dan Iassogna issued warnings to both teams, drawing complaints from Indians manager Charlie Manuel and Hargrove.

Orioles pitcher Scott Erickson had hit Ricky Gutierrez in the leg the previous inning, and the Indians were still steamed about getting hit with four pitches the last time the teams met, May 8 at Camden Yards.

"It was obvious Baez threw at Bordick on purpose, and I thought he should have been ejected," Hargrove said.

If it appeared the Orioles were taking target practice on Cleveland's hitters, Hargrove disagreed. "We're not good enough to throw at people," he said. "We can't be giving away free bases."

Mark your calendars

With the labor talks stalling, news spread yesterday that the players union is discussing a potential strike date for early August. Orioles player representative Jason Johnson has been alerting teammates to that possibility for the past week.

"I think it's a good thing," Johnson said. " ... Hopefully it'll get the ball rolling a little bit."

Tornado victims helped

The Orioles are helping players from the Nanjemoy Little League, located in an area of southern Maryland hard-hit by a tornado a few weeks ago, get to Camden Yards for Saturday's Little League Days event.

After the tornado, Nanjemoy had planned to cancel its trip over financial concerns, the Orioles said. But the club cut the cost of Nanjemoy's tickets for Saturday's game to $1 and is supplying a bus.

Around the horn

The Orioles will likely start Sean Douglass on Saturday against Tampa Bay. They skipped him the past two turns, so he hasn't pitched since May 6. ... Josh Towers allowed three runs in seven innings for Rochester in a 3-1 loss to Richmond yesterday. In two starts with Rochester, Towers is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA and two home runs.

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