Julio is shut down after complaining of winter stiffness


Right-hander to have MRI exam this week as precautionary measure


February 21, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Orioles reliever Jorge Julio will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test on his right forearm this week after complaining of some stiffness over the winter.

Julio threw yesterday and said the arm hasn't bothered him lately, but the Orioles are shutting him down, anyway.

"He just mentioned that it was sore during the winter," trainer Richie Bancells said. "He said it's fine now and he can throw, but the doctors want to check it out as a precaution.

"He can play catch and everything. The doctors just don't want him throwing off a mound."

Julio, who is attempting to regain his job as closer, might have the MRI today, but the team couldn't schedule it yesterday because the office was closed.

"He had some problems down there [Venezuela] this winter and they just wanted to get a look at it," pitching coach Ray Miller said. "I don't think there's any problem now, but they always err on the side of caution."

B.J. Ryan became the closer late last season, with Julio moving to a setup role. Julio remains a candidate to be traded after the Orioles signed right-handers Steve Reed and Jay Witasick.

Parrish adjusts

The Orioles have made some adjustments to the delivery of reliever John Parrish, requesting that the left-hander pitch more from a full windup with no runners on base rather than from the stretch.

"I liked what I saw," manager Lee Mazzilli said after singling out Parrish as the pitcher who impressed him most yesterday.

Parrish said his delivery has slowed down in a full windup, giving him better control and perhaps enabling him to cut down on walks.

"I was a little quick from the stretch last year, and the ball was up," he said.

"I just have to make sure I focus on having the same kind of day that I had today. Everything came out of my hand nice and smooth."

D. Martinez, Weaver back

Former Orioles pitcher Dennis Martinez has been hired as a spring training instructor, and Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver will join him on occasion.

Martinez, 49, ranks No. 1 in victories among Latino pitchers with 245, and is eighth on the Orioles' career list with 108. He broke into the majors with them in 1976 and retired in 1998 after pitching for the Atlanta Braves.

Running a hand across his orange Orioles practice jersey, Martinez said he felt right at home.

"This is the team that brought me up, and I'm happy to be back with them," he said. "I see a lot of young faces here. They look like my kids."

Martinez, whose own children range in age from 31 to 16, said he's unsure of his role in camp besides working with the younger pitchers on defensive drills and how to approach hitters. He'll also assist the foreign-born players with the language barrier that made for a difficult adjustment to the majors when he first joined the Orioles.

Vice president Mike Flanagan contacted his former teammate about the opportunity. "They decided to bring me down here and see if I like it," said Martinez, who runs a resort and baseball academy in Nicaragua. "I believe it's time for me to give back to the Orioles organization."

A lighter Ponson

Pitcher Sidney Ponson weighed in at 253 pounds today, 13 fewer than last spring.

"I feel thinner," he said. "I'm in better condition than I was last year. I've been working hard."

Ponson said he hasn't gone on a special diet, other than cutting down on sodas, but became lighter after deciding to lift fewer weights.

"I think he looks great," Mazzilli said. "It's a very noticeable difference."

Mazzilli's chat

Before the Orioles' pitchers and catchers took the field for their first official workout yesterday, Mazzilli reminded them of what they are capable of accomplishing this season. He spoke about the improved ERA over the second half of 2004.

One subject apparently didn't come up: steroids.

"They're grown men, and they'll be able to answer the question the way they feel is right," Mazzilli said. "I don't have a concern at all about that with my team."

Perfect attendance so far

All 28 pitchers and six catchers have reported to camp. Outfielder Val Majewski and first baseman Walter Young were early arrivals.

Reliever Jason Grimsley, recovering from ligament-replacement surgery in his right elbow, will do his rehabbing at home.

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