Cust is designated for assignment so Bedard has a spot

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher to start tonight

decision on outfielder not easy, Mazzilli says

April 10, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Needing a spot on their 25-man roster for tonight's starting pitcher, Erik Bedard, the Orioles decided to designate Jack Cust for assignment after last night's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Cust was out of minor league options, and with this move, the Orioles will have 10 days to either trade him or expose the outfielder/designated hitter through waivers.

The only way he would be sent to Triple-A Ottawa is if no other team claims him, and because of Cust's potential, that is highly unlikely.

Cust, 25, who came to the Orioles last spring from the Colorado Rockies in a trade for outfielder Chris Richard, has a career minor league on-base percentage of .436. He hit .260 with four home runs in 73 at-bats for the Orioles last season but just .176 in 51 at-bats this spring.

"It was a hard decision," said Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli. "It just came down to playing time, and we had to add another pitcher."

The Orioles, who will have 12 pitchers on their roster when Bedard gets added today, were contemplating sending reliever Rick Bauer to Ottawa.

Bauer allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings in his lone appearance, Wednesday, and he still has a minor league option remaining.

Bedard, who secured the fifth spot in the starting rotation last week, threw 80 pitches in a simulated game Monday at the team's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla.

Smaller glove

Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora was grappling for a solution to his fielding woes after committing three errors in the first two games of the season.

On Thursday, Orioles bench coach Sam Perlozzo noticed that Mora had been using an oversized glove, like the ones worn for the outfield.

Mora said former major leaguer Cookie Rojas gave him some advice to use a smaller glove during practice than the one he used for the game. So he would take his smaller, middle infielder's glove to take grounders during batting practice, and then switch to a larger glove at game time.

Perlozzo said he was stunned when he realized Mora had been doing this all spring. He told Mora to switch, and after committing error No. 4 of the season in the third inning Thursday, Mora finally listened.

He retreated to the clubhouse and switched.

Said Perlozzo: "I told him, `Good. Now get back out there and use two hands!' "

Cordova in the plans

Orioles outfielder Marty Cordova has been a forgotten man, starting the season on the disabled list after a right elbow injury limited him to just nine games last season.

But he has made significant strides in his recovery from the Tommy John ligament-transplant procedure and could be back on the roster by this time next month. That would give the Orioles the right-handed-hitting fourth outfielder they have been looking for off the bench.

Cordova, who has been rehabbing at the team's minor league complex, completed a throwing session with Orioles trainer Brian Ebel yesterday and made several strong throws beyond 200 feet.

The Orioles decided not to place Cordova on the 60-day disabled list, which would have cleared a spot on their 40-man roster for pitcher John Stephens, who was claimed on waivers Thursday by the Boston Red Sox.

"I think that's an indication of how we felt [Cordova's] progress is going," said Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan.

Tough travels

After their four-hour, 37-minute marathon win Thursday night, the Orioles didn't get to their St. Petersburg hotel until 4:30 a.m. But that was better than the Red Sox, who didn't even get off the ground from Baltimore-Washington International Airport until about 6 a.m.

The Red Sox picked a bad time to have plane trouble. They were trying to get home in time for today's home opener, at 3:05 p.m.

Evacuation drill

In another sign of this country's heightened security concerns since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Orioles will conduct a four-hour evacuation drill today at Camden Yards, using 2,000 volunteers, to examine their response procedures for potential emergency situations that might occur during games.

It's part of a joint initiative with the Department of Homeland Security, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the city of Baltimore.

First lefty

The Orioles faced their first left-handed starting pitcher of the season last night - Tampa Bay's Mark Hendrickson.

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