Riley given call, start tonight against Twins


Demoted July 2, lefty gets 2nd shot

3 others recalled



September 07, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

The Orioles called up pitcher Matt Riley from Triple-A Ottawa yesterday and announced the left-hander will start tonight against the Minnesota Twins.

"It's been a tough year, a lot of ups and downs and I am just glad to be back here trying to help this team win," said Riley, who is 1-3 with an 8.39 ERA for the Orioles this season. "I know there's a lot of guys going for just a couple of spots [in the starting rotation] next year. This is an opportunity and I thank the Orioles for bringing me back up and giving me a second chance to see what I can do."

His opportunity to start may be fleeting. After tonight, manager Lee Mazzilli said that Riley will be likely used in long-relief situations, rather than going with a six-man rotation the rest of the way.

"All the guys are getting an extra day [of rest] right now," said Mazzilli. "Coming down the stretch, that's what you need to do. ... Now, we won't need another [spot] starter for two weeks. We're pretty much aligned OK."

Getting pushed back a day didn't exactly thrill Rodrigo Lopez. The right-hander will not pitch until Friday against the Yankees, a full week after his last start.

"It's not good," said Lopez, who had a bullpen session yesterday and will have another one tomorrow. "I like and I feel that my body responds better when I go every five days. I don't like it, but I have to be a professional and do my best when it is my turn. I understand that it's September and we have other guys that have to get the opportunity to pitch, too."

Riley, a third-round selection in the 1997 draft, was 1-2 with a 1.71 ERA for Ottawa, whose season ended yesterday. He began the season as the Orioles' fourth starter, before eventually falling out of favor and being demoted to Ottawa after a July 2 start in Philadelphia.

The organization was furious with the pitcher after they flew him from Kansas City to Philadelphia, a day before he was supposed to pitch against the Phillies, so he could prepare for his start.

But after arriving in Philadelphia, Riley drove to Baltimore to meet his girlfriend, and didn't return until 4:30 p.m. the next day, about 2 1/2 hours before he took the mound.

In that start, Riley faced just 11 batters, surrendering five runs, five hits and three walks and giving up a 5-0 Orioles lead.

"I owed an apology to my teammates, to my manager for the stunt I pulled in Philadelphia," said Riley, who has also battled tendinitis in his pitching arm, but said he now feels near 100 percent. "I think that's all washed clean now and we can move on and I can help my team win some games."

Mazzilli agreed.

"I always give people a clean slate - always," said Mazzilli. "Time heals all wounds, sometimes."

The Orioles also made four other roster moves yesterday, recalling outfielder Darnell McDonald and pitcher Rick Bauer and purchasing the contract of right-handed reliever Aaron Rakers (4-5, 2.75 ERA) from Ottawa. To make room for Rakers on the roster, the Orioles transferred Jerry Hairston to the 60-day disabled list.

Palmeiro plays on

A day after getting nailed just above the right wrist by a Javier Vazquez fastball, Rafael Palmeiro was in the Orioles' lineup yesterday as the designated hitter in their 4-1 win.

Getting the start against lefty Terry Mulholland, Palmeiro was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He entered the game with extra-base hits in six straight games, going 10-for-23 with four doubles and two homers during that stretch.

Palmeiro, whose arm had developed a sizable bump before he took his base Sunday, iced it before and after the game, but he said that he felt fine.

"You know how a pitcher ices his arm after the game?" he said. "That's what I am doing."

Double down

With two more doubles yesterday, Brian Roberts moved into sole possession of third place on the team's single-season doubles list with 45.

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