Club breached rules with Bedard recall

Orioles expect to be fined for making move too soon

Orioles

April 13, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

The Orioles had to clean up a roster mess involving Erik Bedard and Jack Cust yesterday, and the club was expecting to be fined by the commissioner's office after receiving word it had violated baseball rules by recalling Bedard from Triple-A Ottawa to start Saturday's game at Tampa Bay.

Basically, the Orioles misinterpreted the rules when they optioned Bedard to Ottawa on March 30 with a plan to recall him for Saturday's start. Major league rules state a team cannot recall a player who has been sent to the minor leagues for 10 days "of the championship season," which started April 4 for the Orioles.

After being closed for the weekend, the commissioner's office notified the Orioles about the rules breach yesterday and voided the transactions that put Bedard on the major league roster and designated Cust for assignment.

Other than a probable fine and the temporary roster headache, the snafu isn't expected to alter any of the team's best-laid plans, and a commissioner's office source said it was "highly unlikely" the team would have to forfeit's Saturday's 11-3 victory.

While the Orioles were still awaiting word on penalties, Jim Beattie, the club's executive vice president, said he didn't expect to have to forfeit the win.

"We really don't know until we get a ruling from the commissioner's office," Beattie said. "By way of history, they told us that in their recollection, something like this has never resulted in a score change. Most likely, it will be some sort of fine."

The Orioles had planned to start Bedard again Saturday in Toronto, and Beattie said they still would recall him in time to pitch that game. Bedard gave up three runs in three innings Saturday before the Orioles stormed back to win.

Cust, who was designated for assignment Saturday to make room for Bedard, will be on the 25-man roster tonight, when the team begins a three-game series in Boston. But beginning tomorrow - 10 days from the start of the season - the Orioles can recall a minor league player, and the club can fill Cust's spot.

So Cust will not even be at Fenway Park tonight, as Beattie wanted to save him the ignominy of returning for one game.

"That wouldn't be fair to [Cust]," Beattie said.

Beattie said the team would wait until after tonight's game to decide whom to promote in Cust's place. One candidate is hot-hitting Ottawa third baseman Jose Leon. But no matter who it is, he likely would go straight back to Ottawa on Saturday to make room for Bedard.

The commissioner's office source said this isn't the first time a team has misinterpreted the 10-day option rule. There are also exceptions, as teams can recall a minor league player sooner if another player goes on the disabled list.

Beattie said the Orioles thought the 10 days would start counting on the day they optioned Bedard, in this case March 30, as it can when a player begins the season on the disabled list.

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