Borkowski pitches in as reliever for thin staff

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Rocked in past 2 starts, his future role is unclear

August 23, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

With starter Dave Borkowski pitching 1 1/3 innings of relief in the Orioles' 8-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, his status as Wednesday's starter in Oakland is in doubt.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said that Borkowski likely will be available, but he stopped short of guaranteeing that he'll make the start. Borkowski, who was hit for the loss to Toronto on Friday, has surrendered nine runs in his past two starts covering 8 2/3 innings.

"I don't know yet," said Mazzilli when asked whether Borkowski will make his scheduled start. "I needed healthy arms [in the bullpen]. The guys are stretched out."

Borkowski was told before yesterday's game that he might be needed if Erik Bedard struggled. Bedard logged just 2 2/3 innings.

Four Orioles relievers -- Eddy Rodriguez, John Parrish, Borkowski and Todd Williams -- were needed to clean up. In the three-game series, the Orioles got just 9 2/3 innings from their starters, and went to the bullpen 13 times.

"I was simply told that they might need me to pitch an inning or two," Borkowski said. "That's it. As far as I know, I'm starting again Wednesday."

Borkowski struck out four in his relief appearance, allowing one hit and hitting one batter.

"You go out there and pitch well -- no matter how you've been pitching -- it helps your confidence."

McDonald hangs in

Nobody needs to remind Orioles outfielder Darnell McDonald how fleeting opportunities in the big leagues can be. When the Orioles called up the center fielder on Wednesday after Jerry Hairston's season-ending ankle injury, it marked McDonald's third stint with the team this season.

McDonald hopes his staying power is far stronger this time around. The team's 26th overall selection in the 1997 draft made his major league debut on April 30, but by May 9, he was back in Triple-A Ottawa.

He was called up again on July 24, only to be sent down two days later.

"It's definitely tough," said McDonald, who has gotten one start in center field and four at-bats since being recalled. "You come up and you go back down. It can be kind of demoralizing. ... Obviously, I want to be here and I have to show I belong."

McDonald, who was hitting .226 with five home runs and 39 RBIs in Ottawa when he was called up, is 5-for-22 (.227) with the Orioles this season.

With Hairston lost for the season and Larry Bigbie also on the disabled list, McDonald and Garcia will share center field duties, although Garcia started the past three games.

Around the horn

Back in right field, Jay Gibbons went 0-for-4 with a walk and is 3-for-27 since coming off the disabled list Aug. 10. He was robbed twice on diving plays and also flied out to the warning track in center field. "It's been a rough year to say the least," said Gibbons, who is hitting .209. ... Instead of going on a third injury rehab assignment, David Segui, who has been on the disabled list since April 30 after surgery on his left knee, will accompany the Orioles on their 13-game road trip and likely be activated before it ends. ... The 0-6 homestand, which followed a 7-0 homestand, marked the second time in franchise history (the first was in 1961) that the Orioles swept one homestand and were swept in the ensuing one. ... The Orioles gave out Earl Weaver-Jim Palmer bobblehead dolls yesterday to the first 25,000 fans 21 and older. Weaver and Palmer threw out the game's first pitches.

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