As rotation turns, Bedard out, Riley in


After 26 starts, left-hander shut down for rest of year to work on off-speed pitch

September 13, 2004|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen | Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

The Orioles have decided to shut down left-hander Erik Bedard for the last three weeks of the season, with Matt Riley taking his place in the rotation for Wednesday's game in Toronto.

The decision came after Bedard threw 73 pitches in two innings Wednesday night against the Minnesota Twins, leaving him 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 26 starts.

Bedard will have bullpen sessions on alternating days, and the Orioles want him to develop a better off-speed pitch. He has been toying with a split-fingered grip on his changeup, which he used effectively Sept. 2 while holding the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to one run over seven innings.

The results weren't nearly as favorable Wednesday. Bedard gave up seven runs, though only one was earned, and further tested the organization's patience with his inability to put away hitters early in the count.

"There's no question he has the stuff to pitch in this league," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "One-, two-, three-pitch outs will help him get into the seventh inning."

The Orioles are being careful with Bedard, who has thrown 133 1/3 innings, the most of his professional career, after having ligament-replacement surgery in his left elbow two years ago.

"He understands," Mazzilli said. "We think, right now, it's the right thing to do."

Mazzilli insisted Tuesday that Riley would make one start and go to the bullpen, but those plans changed after the left-hander allowed one run and two hits over seven innings in a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins. He left with a 1-0 lead.

"This gives me an opportunity to prove to the coaches and the team that I belong there," Riley said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to have a second chance to come back here and start. Hopefully, I can finish up strong and try to get ready for next year."

Mazzilli wasn't making any promises beyond Riley's next appearance.

"He'll start Wednesday in Toronto," Mazzilli said. "We'll see where we go from there."

The Orioles also considered Rick Bauer for the rotation, but they view him as better suited for the bullpen than Riley. Bauer allowed one hit over four scoreless innings Wednesday after replacing Bedard in a 9-0 loss to the Twins.

Riley and Bedard were part of an Opening Day rotation that included four pitchers who hadn't completed a full season in the majors. Riley, who's 1-3 with a 7.19 ERA, was demoted twice to Triple-A Ottawa and went on the disabled list. Kurt Ainsworth (0-1, 9.68 ERA) and Eric DuBose (4-6, 6.39 ERA) were shut down and had elbow surgery.

Foul mood on alleged tips

New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said yesterday that his team has been studying third base coach Tom Trebelhorn since the teams met at Camden Yards in late June to see whether he was tipping off the Orioles hitters about pitch locations.

Apparently, the Yankees had been especially suspicious when closer Mariano Rivera was in the game. Normally, Rivera is extremely tough against left-handed hitters, but Orioles' left-handers had six hits against Rivera in a span of nine at-bats.

Tempers flared Saturday, after the left-handed hitting B.J. Surhoff struck out for the second out in the ninth inning. Posada began yelling at Trebelhorn and pointed to his head, threatening that somebody would get hurt if the Orioles didn't stop.

Trebelhorn was incensed with the threat, insisting he did nothing, and challenged Posada for an explanation after Saturday's final out. Posada brushed him off.

"If he's not doing anything, why's he so mad?" Posada said. "We go on, we keep playing ball, and we'll see what happens. If he does it again, somebody's going to get hurt. Period."

Yesterday, Trebelhorn was more amused than angry.

"Paranoia is a dangerous thing," Trebelhorn said. "When I managed, I always liked the other side to be worried about things that didn't exist because if they're worried about it, something they should be worried about will get by them."

Yankee Stadium South

All three games of this series were sold out, but that didn't exactly make the Orioles feel at home.

The Bronx cheers, spread throughout the ballpark, were too loud.

"It's disheartening," David Newhan said. "You go into New York and it's hard enough playing them. Then you come back home and you have absolutely no home-field advantage. You've got 40 grand and it feels like it's an away game here."

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