Riley on the mend, not mound

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Stiff shoulder is healing

left-hander might pitch for Ottawa within 2 weeks

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

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Matt Riley hasn't started for Triple-A Ottawa since being demoted by the Orioles after a July 2 game against the Philadelphia Phillies, but the tendinitis in his left shoulder has subsided enough that he could resume pitching within two weeks.

The Orioles shut down Riley because of some stiffness in his shoulder that cropped up while he threw on the side. He played catch Thursday without discomfort and expects to throw off a mound in the next five days.

"I had some tendinitis, but it's pretty much taken care of," Riley said by phone from Ottawa. "I feel good. It's time to move on and pitch with my full arsenal."

Doc Rodgers, the Orioles' director of minor league operations, said, "He came back yesterday, and he was raring to go."

Riley went on the disabled list earlier this season because of stiffness in the same shoulder.

"I never fully got [the tendinitis] out the first time, but I wanted to come back and pitch. But it finally got to be too much," Riley said. "I think people could tell that I wasn't throwing as hard as I was before. It's just something I needed to take care of. It's hard to pitch at 80 percent."

When the shoulder began bothering Riley again after he reported to Ottawa earlier this month, the Orioles shut him down "as a precaution," said vice president Mike Flanagan.

"He had a little stiffness, and we figured we'd give him some time off," Flanagan said. "This way, he can come back fresh."

Riley faced only 11 batters in Philadelphia before coming out of the game, and the Orioles optioned him after a 7-6, 16-inning victory. He's 1-3 with an 8.39 ERA in nine appearances.

The demotion was more for disciplinary reasons after Riley was slow to arrive in Philadelphia despite being sent ahead early.

"It's disappointing because I want to pitch in the big leagues," he said. "That's the ultimate goal. But I'll come here and work on a couple things and get back up there as soon as possible."

Mora set to return

After completing a second straight day of running without any mishaps, Melvin Mora is convinced he will be activated from the disabled list tomorrow when he's eligible.

Mora is recovered from a strained right hamstring, but he's experiencing mild discomfort in his left ankle after spraining a ligament in the foot.

"It's no big deal," he said. "It's not like it was before. I'm able to run."

Mora ranks second in the league with a .347 batting average, but his desire to return comes from a team perspective.

"I know we're going to play better in the second half," he said, "and I want to be part of that."

A break for J. Lopez

Two days past the All-Star break, catcher Javy Lopez already has gotten some rest, serving yesterday as the designated hitter.

Manager Lee Mazzilli didn't want Lopez behind the plate for a 12:15 p.m. game after he caught nine innings Thursday night. Mazzilli gave Ken Huckaby the start and still had Robert Machado in reserve with three catchers on the roster.

"I have the luxury of doing that now," Mazzilli said.

Piniella criticizes Seay

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella isn't shy about criticizing his players in the media, especially pitchers, and he took a few shots at reliever Bobby Seay after the left-hander gave up a two-run triple to David Newhan in the seventh inning Thursday that broke a 3-3 tie.

"Bobby Seay has got to figure out how to get people out when he comes into a ballgame," Piniella said.

Seay twice has allowed critical hits to the first batter he's faced in three appearances since rejoining Tampa Bay last week.

Orioles today

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Site: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Time: 6:15 p.m.

TV: Chs. 54, 20/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (6-6, 3.89) vs. Devil Rays' Dewon Brazelton (2-2, 3.20)

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