Riley placed on DL

Cabrera to get start

Lefty's shoulder is sore

Lopez staying in bullpen

May 12, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO - The Orioles placed pitcher Matt Riley on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with soreness in his left shoulder, and in somewhat of a surprise move, they chose Double-A prospect Daniel Cabrera to temporarily fill his place in the starting rotation.

Instead of turning Rodrigo Lopez back into a starter or promoting one of their most ballyhooed prospects - John Maine or Denny Bautista - the Orioles went with Cabrera, who has been quietly dominating the Eastern League.

Cabrera, 22, will make his major league debut tonight when he starts against the Chicago White Sox. He was 0-1 with a 2.63 ERA for Bowie, but he had 35 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. In his last start, May 4, the 6-foot-7 right-hander allowed one hit in seven shutout innings, walking none and striking out 11 against Erie.

"His last three or four starts were outstanding," said Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan. "He's been on our radar screen, and he seemed to really mature this spring."

Riley said he experienced tightness and soreness in his shoulder on Sunday, when he made the first relief appearance of his major league career. But he has not undergone a magnetic resonance imaging exam - a test the team would have him take if it suspected structural damage.

The plan is to have Riley rest for three or four days and begin some strengthening exercises before resuming a throwing program. Riley will be eligible to come off the disabled list on May 25, and the Orioles hope he can jump right back into the rotation.

"When I went to the bullpen, with the role of having to get loose quick, my arm wasn't ready for it," Riley said. "I had nothing behind my fastball [Sunday]."

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli called Lopez into his office yesterday, explaining the reasons behind the Cabrera move. Entering last night, Lopez was 3-1 with a 0.36 ERA in 11 relief appearances.

Mazzilli said the team is viewing this as a temporary move. If the team eventually moves Lopez into the rotation, they would put him in the No. 2 starter's spot, rather than the No. 5 starter's spot, Mazzilli said, because the fifth starter often has his turn in the rotation skipped because of open dates and rainouts.

"That is if it ever comes to that," Mazzilli said. "I told him it may not happen. But obviously, as a team, we can't continue to have our starters only give us four innings."

Maine recently made the jump from Bowie to Triple-A Ottawa, where he is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts, and Flanagan said the team considered him for the promotion. But, for now, the Orioles would rather let Maine settle into a rhythm at Triple-A.

Though scouts continue to rave about Bautista, he is 1-3 with a 5.53 ERA in seven games for Bowie.

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