Saunders taken to hospital for back spasms

Glen Burnie grad should be out in `couple of days'

Baldwin makes his mark

Orioles minor league notebook


April 25, 2005|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

The comeback of Glen Burnie's Tony Saunders took a bad turn on Saturday when the left-hander's back "locked up on him due to back spasms," said David Stockstill, the Orioles' director of minor league operations.

Saunders, who is at extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla., was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he is expected to remain for a few days.

"Tony should be released in a couple of days," said Stockstill, who expects Saunders to stay in Sarasota for another month as he attempts to overcome his misfortunes, which include breaking his left arm twice.

"He needs to get into better shape and that's why he has been in extended spring training. He's been out for five years and needs to be more consistent with his pitches."

Stockstill was on hand April 17 in Bowie as the Orioles' No. 2 prospect, right-hander Hayden Penn put on a show for the Double-A Baysox. Penn didn't give up a hit through six innings against the Akron Aeros, struck out nine and walked two.

"He had a no-hitter through six innings without his best stuff," Stockstill said.

"He has that explosive fastball, but it's hard to say what his best pitch is. He has command of his fast ball on both sides, an outstanding changeup and a very good curveball."

Penn, who is 6 feet 3 and 185 pounds and won't be 21 years old until October, lost a tough 2-0 decision to the Erie SeaWolves in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday night. In a game that took only 1 hour and 27 minutes to play, Penn (1-1) was out-dueled by Erie's Rob Henkel (3-1), who had a five-hitter through six innings.

Pitching all seven innings, Penn yielded five hits and had four strikeouts to retain his Eastern League lead in strikeouts with 30.

Lefty Eric DuBose was scheduled to pitch for the Baysox (7-10) yesterday, but the game was postponed due to snow in Erie, Pa.

Triple-A Ottawa

Promising right-hander James Baldwin, whom Stockstill says is "a constant consideration for the big league club," was roughed up Saturday night at Rochester as the Lynx took a 9-0 loss in the International League.

Baldwin (1-1) watched his 1.50 ERA balloon to 4.50 and has now given up 22 hits and 11 earned runs in 22 innings of work. His ratio of 12 strikeouts to three walks is still good and his stock remains high.

Orioles fans are likely to see Baldwin in Baltimore before the summer is over.

The Lynx are 9-8 and in third place in the Northern Division, two games behind Scranton-Wilkes Barre (11-6) .

Former New York Yankees utility infielder Enrique Wilson, who played in two World Series, was activated by the Lynx on Friday. Outfielder Ramon Nivar was put on the disabled list with a lower back strain to clear the way for Wilson.

A 31-year old switch-hitter, Wilson played 93 games with the Yankees last year. When an infield of Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada rarely sits down, the need for a utility player lessens.

The Lynx's Walter Young continues to lead the International League in hitting at .473 and has six doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs as of yesterday.

Double-A Bowie

Infielder Gera Alvarez, who was batting .286 at Frederick, was promoted to the Baysox on Friday. Alvarez, 25, hit 12 homers and drove in 37 runs for Frederick on a .251 batting clip in 2004.

Bowie manager Don Werner switched shortstop Brandon Fahey to leadoff batter Friday night and Fahey had two hits. He followed it up by leading off the second game of a doubleheader at Erie on Saturday with a homer that led to a 7-1 victory.

Baysox catchers Brandon Marsters (8-for-21) and Octavio Martinez (6-for-10) have caught 45.2 percent of attempted base stealers. Former Thomas Johnson High star Joey Hammond has played every infield position and the outfield for the Baysox in eight starts this season.

After going 2-5 on their first homestand, the Baysox are ready to start another stand Friday against Reading at 7.05 p.m., and will stage a fireworks show on Saturday night after the 7:05 game, also against Reading.

Single-A Frederick

Stockstill was in Frederick to watch the Keys (8-9 in the Carolina League) over the weekend, was impressed with their pitching and said "things are starting to happen" offensively.

Left-hander Richard Stahl, who is 6-7 and 222 pounds, is off to a 2-1 start with 20 strikeouts, five walks, and 12 hits in 17 innings and has a 3.12 ERA. Reliever Chris Piersoll is 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 10 innings, and closer Tony Neal is 1-2 with three saves.

Touted outfielders Nick Markakis (.245) and Jeff Fiorentino (.283) are starting to swing the bat better, but Jarod Rine (.149) is still struggling.

Single-A Delmarva

Pitching continues to be the hallmark of the Shorebirds, who were 11-6 in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division after splitting a doubleheader with first-place Hagerstown (13-4, Mets) on Saturday night.

Closer Dave Haehnel leads the league in saves with seven and has a 1.29 ERA.

Reliever Casey Cahill is 3-0, and starters Kevin Hart and lefty Carlos Perez continue to throw well.

Hart is 1-0 in three starts with 16 innings of work in which he has given up 13 hits, only two earned runs, eight walks with 11 strikeouts and has a 1.13 ERA.

Perez is 0-1 but has 19 strikeouts in 15 innings and a 0.60 ERA.

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