Doc Rodgers, the Orioles' director of minor league operations, calls it the "Frederick speed bump," and once again, pitcher Jayme Sperring hit it hard enough to change direction.
For the second consecutive season, Sperring was returned to lower Single-A Delmarva after struggling in late-inning relief with the Keys. He went 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA in 15 appearances before the Orioles reassigned him.
"It seems to occur on occasion, especially with some of our pitchers once they make that transition from low A ball to high A ball," Rodgers said. "He scuffled a little bit at Frederick, so we thought we'd send him down and let him get his feet under him again."
The Orioles did more than just change his team. They also adjusted his role.
For the first time in his professional career, the former eighth-round draft choice is a starter. All 124 of his appearances before this season came in relief, as did 28 more at Frederick and Delmarva this year.
Sperring is 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 19 games at Delmarva, including six starts. In his past four starts, he's 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24 innings.
"He was a three-pitch guy, so we talked about running him out to the rotation and seeing if we could kind of get him settled down and in a groove," Rodgers said. "The more you pitch, the better feel you have for pitching."
Sperring led the organization with 26 saves at Delmarva in 2001, and had six more last season. But it's becoming clear that the Orioles don't project him as a major league closer.
"He's a guy who's probably not a top prospect by most measures, but a three-pitch guy who knows how to compete," Rodgers said. "We knew he should be able to give us some innings at Delmarva. Except for one kind of so-so start, he's been pretty impressive.
"He's another guy who always had it in the back of his mind that he'd like to start, but he never really got the opportunity. The gods of baseball all conspired to give him a shot, and he's made the best of it."
The Orioles will determine later whether Sperring remains a starter or returns to the bullpen.
"He definitely has opened our eyes with the way he has performed," Rodgers said. "There are no guarantees either way, but he's certainly stepped up and taken the bull by the horns. He's definitely a guy to be considered down the road in this role."
That road eventually will take him back to Frederick, where he posted a 9.00 ERA last season, compared to 2.25 away from Harry Grove Stadium. He struggled on the Keys' home field again this year. Maybe he's more comfortable with motel living.
"As Yogi Berra said, it's 90 percent half mental," Rodgers said. "You get in a situation where you start looking for bad things to happen, and they do. You put some mental hexes on yourself. But hopefully, he's over that."
It's time for Sperring to start clearing some speed bumps.
"The way he's pitching now," Rodgers said, "it doesn't matter if it's in Frederick or Delmarva. He's throwing the ball really well."
The Lynx lost seven of their past eight games before defeating Rochester, 6-2, on Saturday. Sean Douglass held the Red Wings to two runs over 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight. ... Tim Raines Jr., who has re-emerged as an outfield prospect in the farm system, hit safely in 18 of 20 games, batting .317 (26-for-82), going into the weekend. His 11-game hitting streak ended during the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader. ... Jack Cust's 10-game hitting streak ended last Monday, but he had a strong week. Cust had a run-scoring double in the second game of Monday's doubleheader, hit his ninth homer on Wednesday and contributed a two-run single in Thursday's 4-2 loss to Pawtucket.
Bowie returned to .500 for the first time since July 3 by sweeping Friday's doubleheader against New Britain. ... Left-hander Brian Forystek tossed six shutout innings Thursday in a 6-1 win over New Britain, lowering his ERA to 2.54 -- third in the Eastern League. The two leaders had ERAs of 2.52. ... Juan Diaz returned to the lineup after missing four games with a sore back and homered in Wednesday's 7-6, 12-inning loss to Akron. He also had an RBI single Thursday. ... Eddy Rodriguez replaced Arundel High grad Brandon Agamennone with the bases loaded and none out Thursday and struck out all three batters he faced.