Orioles pitcher Rodrigo Lopez and trainer Richie Bancells have been selected to participate in Major League Baseball's annual all-star series next month in Japan.
Lopez is part of a 28-player roster that also includes sluggers Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. The MLB team will play seven games, beginning Nov. 9, against all-stars from the Japanese Professional League and one against the Yomiuri Giants.
The Orioles are taking precautions with Lopez after he showed signs of fatigue late in the season while going 15-9 with a 3.57 ERA in 196 2/3 innings. They sent him to Mexico, where he threw two innings in a recent winter league game, to ease him back into competition.
"The most dangerous thing would have been for him to do nothing and then go over [to Japan] and pitch," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations.
Thrift and pitching coach Mark Wiley have contacted All-Star manager Art Howe and pitching coach Rick Peterson concerning Lopez's workload. Lopez, named Most Valuable Oriole, is expected to pitch in two of the eight games, with his appearances limited to a few innings.
Lopez, reliever Jorge Julio and catcher Geronimo Gil were named to Baseball Digest's All-Rookie team. Lopez also has been named the American League's top rookie pitcher by The Sporting News.
In other Orioles news, the club has removed pitchers John Parrish and Luis Rivera from the 40-man roster by outrighting them to Triple-A. And Thrift continues to speak daily with Bob LaMonte, the agent for pitcher Pat Hentgen.
The Orioles won't exercise the $6 million option on Hentgen's contract, but an announcement concerning a restructured deal could come next week.
Thrift also was busy yesterday denying rumors that he will retire on Monday. Citing an item in the New York Post, Thrift said, "Which Monday was that, 2012?"
Asked what he'll be doing next season, Thrift said, "I don't know. You'll have to ask [majority owner] Peter Angelos."