Cubillan got call twice on first day


Awakened by promotion, reliever went 3 1/3 in debut

Cabrera to face Mariners

May 17, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

When Darwin Cubillan took a seat in the Orioles' bullpen Saturday night, he didn't expect the first phone call to be for him. And once he entered the game, he certainly didn't anticipate sticking around for more than an inning.

Upon further review, Cubillan shouldn't be surprised by anything that happens to him. It's not like he ever imagined winding up in Baltimore as a non-roster closer for the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx.

The Orioles purchased his contract after optioning Kurt Ainsworth to Ottawa, requiring Cubillan to grab a flight Saturday morning that connected in Detroit. The news came to him in a midnight phone call from Lynx manager Tim Leiper, one that shook him out of a slumber.

"I was trying to sleep when they called me," said Cubillan, who was 0-1 with a 4.02 ERA and eight saves in 16 games. "I couldn't believe it. I was so happy. It was unbelievable."

Cubillan was no stranger to Lee Mazzilli, who managed him at Single-A Tampa in 1998.

"He was durable," Mazzilli said. "That helps."

It did Saturday night as Cubillan shut out the Anaheim Angels on one hit over 3 1/3 innings.

"I put him in a tough situation and then needed to kind of stretch him out a little bit," Mazzilli said. "Going as long as he did is pretty impressive, especially for a guy who weighs about 11 pounds. He throws pretty hard."

With ninth innings reserved for him in the International League, Cubillan had to adjust to being used in middle relief - especially on limited rest after his flights.

"When I went in the bullpen last night, I figured I would pitch only one inning," he said. "I'm happy. I think in this game sometimes you can be real tired and all you have to do is try to do your job. I just did the best I could."

As Cubillan spoke to reporters, convinced that he didn't need an interpreter to be understood, he clutched a copy of the Angels' scorecard from Saturday. It will be framed along with the one from his first major league victory against the Atlanta Braves in 2000 while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cubillan also pitched for the Texas Rangers in 2000 and Montreal Expos in 2001. He saved 20 games for Ottawa in 2003, and re-signed with the Orioles as a minor league free agent during the winter rather than move to another organization.

There's something to be said for familiarity. Look how it worked out for him Saturday.

"I talked to my agent about it," Cubillan said. "He told me they know me already. If I go to another team, I'd have to prove that I can pitch.

"I said, `OK, I'll go back again. Maybe I'll have a chance to pitch here.' But I never thought I would be here this soon."

Ahoy, Mariners

The Orioles' rotation for the Seattle Mariners series that begins tomorrow night at Safeco Field remained unsettled as the team took batting practice yesterday.

The only certainty was rookie Daniel Cabrera making his second major league start tomorrow against Freddy Garcia. Mazzilli hadn't determined if Rodrigo Lopez would pitch Wednesday or Thursday, with left-hander Erik Bedard going the other night.

Mazzilli's plans hinged on whether he needed Lopez in relief last night. With starter Sidney Ponson going the distance, it wasn't necessary.

An extended appearance by Lopez would have pushed him to Thursday, but he never budged.

The Mariners are starting Ryan Franklin on Wednesday and Gil Meche on Thursday.

Mora going long, too

Not only does Melvin Mora continue to lead the American League in batting with a .368 average, he also has more home runs (seven) than any other Oriole.

Did anyone really expect this, considering the company he now keeps in the clubhouse?

"I'm not surprised at all," Mazzilli said. "He's very capable of doing that. As every year goes by, he's more mature and more confident about his ability. And knowing that he's at third base every day, batting second, is a big difference. From a player's standpoint, it's nice to know you don't have to look and see where you're going to be. So, that has something to do with it as well."

Around the horn

Mazzilli said the club hasn't determined whether Matt Riley (sore shoulder) will need to go on an injury rehabilitation assignment before being activated from the disabled list. Riley is eligible to return May 25. ... Anaheim catcher Bengie Molina left the game in the third inning with tightness in his right groin. He was replaced by his brother, Jose Molina. ... Last night's loss was only the Angels' third in 13 games in May.

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