A difficult season for pitcher Josh Towers has taken an ugly turn. The Orioles must decide where it leads him.
Triple-A Rochester manager Andy Etchebarren said he fined Towers after Saturday's game for flipping him the ball on the mound upon being removed in the fourth inning. Towers stormed to the dugout after giving up a two-run double to Charlotte's Joe Borchard, and was confronted again by Etchebarren.
"He showed me up, and he showed his team up," Etchebarren told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "I just fined him the largest amount I've ever fined a player, and it was for insubordination."
Towers left Frontier Field without speaking to reporters. Etchebarren wouldn't disclose the amount of the fine, but said, "It's large."
"I've been in this game for 40 years, and no pitcher is going to do that to me," he said.
Sent down to Rochester last month to improve his mechanics and mind-set, Towers is 0-5 with a 6.68 ERA in 33 2/3 innings. He left Saturday's game after allowing six runs and walking four in 3 1/3 innings.
"I heard he got better the time before that," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations. "I don't think this will be a miraculous, overnight thing. We're just going to have to get him back on track."
Thrift was reluctant to discuss Saturday's incident until he received more information. He placed a call to Etchebarren and planned to speak with Towers. Thrift also referred to the matter as "an organizational thing" that wouldn't fall upon one person, and would include farm director Don Buford.
"We'll wait and see. I don't know enough about that," he said.
Thrift wouldn't comment whether Towers might be suspended. "I don't want to say anything about that right now. I don't know enough. I can't react, I can't overreact," he said.
"We all do things sometimes that we're sorry we did. It's not good to be judgmental when we don't know everything."
Towers was 0-3 with a 7.90 ERA before the Orioles optioned him to Rochester. He allowed 11 homers in 27 1/3 innings, and has given up eight more since his demotion.
Asked if he's writing off the episode as part of Towers' frustration, Thrift said, "Sure, that's what it really is. It's all part of learning."
Maduro opts for surgery
Pitcher Calvin Maduro will have arthroscopic surgery Friday to remove a cracked bone spur and chips from his right elbow. He's expected to miss six to eight weeks of the season.
The Orioles placed Maduro on the disabled list Friday and activated pitcher Jason Johnson. Once the club's fifth starter, Maduro went to the bullpen and again experienced severe pain in the elbow while pitching Tuesday in New York.
A CT scan and X-rays taken Thursday in Baltimore revealed the spur and chips. The team's medical staff gave Maduro the option of skipping surgery and trying to return with three weeks of rest.
Easy does it
The Orioles are proceeding slowly in their efforts to sign first-round draft pick Adam Loewen, a left-handed pitcher from Fraser Valley High School in Surrey, British Columbia. The first step was having area scout John Gillette visit Loewen's home this weekend.
Loewen was the fourth overall pick in the draft, and the Orioles have been encouraged by some of the other first-round signings. Cincinnati signed the No. 3 overall pick, prep pitcher Chris Gruler, for $2.5 million. Colorado signed the ninth overall pick, second baseman Russ Adams, for $1.8 million.
A year ago, the fourth overall pick, pitcher Gavin Floyd from Mount St. Joe, signed with Philadelphia for $4.2 million.
Around the horn
The Orioles left only eight runners on base during the three-game series. ... Pitcher Rodrigo Lopez will sign autographs today at the Inner Harbor from noon to 1 p.m. Catcher Geronimo Gil had been scheduled but won't be able to appear.
Staff writer Joe Christensen contributed to this article.