O's rest Cabrera, plan to move him up in 2nd half rotation


Rookie nears 100 innings

Zito story livens clubhouse

July 08, 2004|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen | Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

With only three games remaining before the All-Star break, the Orioles will move Daniel Cabrera into the bullpen this weekend and withhold his next start until the second half.

Cabrera has emerged as an unlikely staff ace at age 23, with no experience beyond Single-A until this season. Because of today's open date, his next turn wasn't scheduled until Sunday.

The Orioles are being cautious with Cabrera, who hasn't totaled more than 125 1/3 innings in a single season. He's thrown 70 2/3 this year with the Orioles, going 5-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 12 appearances since being recalled from Double-A Bowie, where he had 27 1/3 innings.

"He's a young kid and hasn't pitched a lot." manager Lee Mazzilli said. "He's probably not used to pitching this many innings."

The sacrifice comes in not squeezing another outing from the team's most effective starter.

"He keeps you in a game every time he goes to the mound." Mazzilli said. "For a kid to come out of Double-A and do what he's doing is pretty impressive. The kid's got tremendous poise out there."

Mazzilli has an idea how his rotation will unfold after the break, but he wouldn't reveal it to reporters yesterday. It's possible that Cabrera will start the first game next Thursday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dave Borkowski, who carried a shutout into the ninth inning in Game 2 of Monday's doubleheader, also will go to the bullpen until the second half. Borkowski was supposed to make one start with the Orioles before returning to Triple-A Ottawa, but those plans changed after he picked up his first major league win since 1999.

The Orioles will start Erik Bedard, Sidney Ponson and Rodrigo Lopez against the Kansas City Royals in a series that begins tomorrow at Camden Yards. Lopez is taking Cabrera's turn.

Bedard also will be watched closely in the second half after having ligament-reconstructive surgery in his left elbow in 2002.

"You have to monitor the whole staff." Mazzilli said.

Zito in orange?

The Orioles' clubhouse was stirring yesterday with rumors that the club may try to acquire former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito from the Oakland Athletics.

ESPN's Peter Gammons reported Tuesday that the A's would listen to offers for Zito, especially from teams that could offer an offensive-minded second baseman and a top setup man.

With two qualified second basemen (Jerry Hairston and Brian Roberts) and a host of relievers with high trade value (B.J. Ryan, Jorge Julio and Jason Grimsley) the Orioles would appear to be a logical fit. But major league officials pretty much shot down the possibility of the Orioles acquiring Zito yesterday.

According to those sources, Oakland has expressed interest in Hairston and Roberts while they look for someone to replace injured second baseman Mark Ellis.

But with Oakland fighting for the American League West lead, the A's want to keep their starting rotation intact and acquire a second baseman for prospects.

An Orioles official said they aren't looking to trade Hairston or Roberts for prospects. They want major league talent in return. So far, Oakland hasn't mentioned Zito as a possibility.

Huckaby arrives

Ken Huckaby officially joined the Orioles" yesterday and was available for late-inning duty, giving the club a third catcher while Javy Lopez served as the designated hitter and Robert Machado started behind the plate.

The Orioles claimed Huckaby on waivers Tuesday after the Texas Rangers designated him for assignment. He went 4-for-25 in eight games with the Rangers after having his contract purchased from Triple-A Oklahoma City on May 21.

"I'm very excited." he said. 'It's a new atmosphere, a new team and a young pitching staff. I really look forward to working with them as much as I can."

To make room for Huckaby on the 25-man roster, the Orioles outrighted outfielder Chad Mottola to Ottawa. Mottola, who cleared waivers and accepted the assignment, went 2-for-14 (.143) with a three-run homer in six games.

Keys' Johnson honored

Single-A Frederick third baseman Tripper Johnson, 22, has been named the Carolina League's Player of the Month for June.

Johnson, a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds of the 2000 draft, batted .356 (33-for-93) with a league- leading eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 25 games. He also posted a .742 slugging percentage and a .429 on-base percentage.

Johnson was the 32nd overall pick in 2000 out of Newport (Wash.) High. He was compensation for the Orioles losing reliever Arthur Rhodes to free agency.

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