Ponson won't let rain drench his routine

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher throws on his own to tire out right shoulder

`I like to have ... soreness'

Baseball

April 15, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - As soon as Sidney Ponson got the word yesterday that the Orioles and Boston Red Sox had been rained out for a second straight night at Fenway Park, he went outside and started throwing as hard he could.

His goal was simple. He wanted to tire out his arm.

Ponson was scheduled to pitch last night with regular rest - five days from his last start at Tampa Bay. With another rainout, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli decided to push his top four starters back a day, meaning Ponson will take the mound tonight, opposite Pedro Martinez, in a rematch of the Orioles' 7-2 victory April 4 on Opening Night.

Weather permitting.

These two rainouts in Boston will be replayed later in the season, with the dates to be determined. The Orioles come back for two games July 21-22 and a four-game set Sept. 20-23, so the makeup dates will probably mean a day-night doubleheader gets attached to each series.

Ponson, who is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his two starts, said he dislikes having the extra rest, especially this early in the season.

"I'll be too strong," he said. "I like to have a little soreness in my shoulder, because then I stay within myself."

So Ponson went outside in the rain and played long toss for eight to 10 minutes. Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley actually had all of his pitchers do some throwing yesterday, trying to keep their arms from getting rusty.

The Orioles haven't played since Sunday afternoon, when they suffered through a 10-1 loss to the Devil Rays.

"It's almost like an All-Star break, without really a workout you can have on the field," Mazzilli said. "It changes everything. It's very rare to get rained out two days in a row, especially after an off day."

For fifth starter Erik Bedard, yesterday's rainout meant he won't be coming back from Triple-A Ottawa until April 24. He was scheduled to come back Sunday, but with a day off Monday, Mazzilli decided to skip Bedard's start and let his other four starters come back next week with regular rest.

So Matt Riley, Kurt Ainsworth and Eric DuBose will pitch this weekend in Toronto, and Ponson will start things over again Tuesday, when the Orioles begin a 10-game homestand, against Tampa Bay.

Ainsworth was scheduled to pitch Tuesday, and now he's looking at Saturday in Toronto. In his only start, he gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Red Sox on April 7.

"That's obviously the worst part: You sit on a bad outing for nine days," he said. "When you have a bad outing, you want to get back out there. Sitting on seven runs, I'm looking to get out there and prove to myself and everybody else that's not me."

Boston looks ahead

It raised some eyebrows in the Orioles' clubhouse when the Red Sox chose to stick with Martinez tonight, pushing last night's scheduled starter, Derek Lowe, to Sunday.

The Red Sox begin a four-game series with the Yankees on Friday, and Martinez won't pitch in that series.

Boston manager Terry Francona said that decision has nothing to do with keeping Martinez away from the Yankees. The two rivals hook up again the following weekend, and Martinez is scheduled to pitch April 25 at Yankee Stadium.

The way the schedule lines up, it would have been impossible to have Martinez face the Yankees in both series, unless they did something radical like skip a turn or bring him back on short rest.

If anything, the rain has given the Orioles a chance to read all about the highly anticipated Red Sox-Yankees series in the local papers. Granted, it's a rematch of last fall's classic American League Championship Series, but the Boston Herald started a huge four-part series about the rivalry on its back page Tuesday.

"Let them keep thinking about [the Yankees], and we'll beat them [tonight]," Ponson said. "Let them think we're a walk in the park, and we'll give them a rude awakening."

Raines arrives

Outfielder Tim Raines Jr. arrived from Ottawa yesterday, and the rainout was actually good news for him. Since the Orioles don't plan to recall Bedard until April 24, it probably bought Raines extra time in the big leagues.

"It's just bitter cold [in Ottawa]," Raines said. "The bad thing about it is the games are during the daytime, and it's still cold. Guys are out in the outfield, and you can't tell who it is because they're so bundled up. And one of those is me."

Still awaiting ruling

Major League Baseball's executive vice president, Sandy Alderson, told the Associated Press it is highly unlikely the Orioles will have to forfeit Saturday's 11-3 victory at Tampa Bay for using Bedard, who was supposed to spend 10 full days in Ottawa before getting recalled.

The Orioles expect to get fined for that transaction, but Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said he still hadn't received a ruling from the commissioner's office yesterday.

Brook Fordyce, the former Orioles catcher who signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason, said he doesn't think a fine is enough punishment.

"Was there malicious intent? No," he told the St. Petersburg Times. "But the fact of the matter is, the guy was ineligible to be on the field and he was pitching and helped his team win. ... And who's to say that one game doesn't keep us from being the wild card?"

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site: Fenway Park, Boston

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Sidney Ponson (1-0, 2.19) vs. Red Sox's Pedro Martinez (1-1, 1.98)

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