Ryan raising free-agent stakes

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Closer, not negotiating during season, ups value

ex-Oriole Davis honored

Notebook

June 12, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

CINCINNATI - As Orioles closer B.J. Ryan continues to rack up the saves this year, his total standing at 16, his value increases on the open market. And it's likely that Ryan will test it, since the two sides aren't negotiating during the season.

Ryan made it clear that he wouldn't discuss a contract extension after Opening Day, fearful that the distractions would affect him on the mound.

"There won't be any [negotiations]. Not during the season," he said. "We talked beforehand and made it clear that once I get here, this is my job and this is what I'll worry about. I'm not going to worry about next year as much as I'm going to worry about what I can do now to help this team.

"I don't need to waver from that when I get out there and have my mind wandering elsewhere from where it needs to be. And it needs to be on the field. That's what they pay me to do and that's what I'm going to do."

Ryan is making $2.6 million in the final year of his contract. He'll earn a bigger raise as a closer than when he served as a left-handed setup man.

Asked if the uncertainty is more of a distraction than in-season negotiations, Ryan said, "I was a 17th-round draft pick. I've lived with uncertainty my whole baseball career.

"A college senior, man. It's not like I just jumped into first-rounder and instant 40-man [roster]. I've worked for it and I've caught some good breaks. And I've had some good pitching coaches that helped me along the way. You're grateful for that. But a little uncertainty never hurt anybody. It just makes you work harder."

Ryan has recovered nicely from his blown save on June 2, when Boston's David Ortiz hit a three-run, walk-off homer to give the Red Sox a 6-4 victory.

He retired all three batters he faced two nights later in a 14-7 win in Detroit, and protected a 4-3 lead in Pittsburgh in his first save opportunity since Ortiz's blast. Ryan allowed three inherited runners to score in the final game against the Pirates, but he struck out the side in Friday's 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

"Everybody's going to go through it and you've just got to blow it off and show up the next day," Ryan said. "It's still a business and this is still your job. And you've just got to forget about it and come to work the next day and be ready to pitch."

Ryan couldn't wait for his next save chance. "You've got to get that taste out of your mouth," he said.

Salute to E. Davis

Eric Davis was inducted into the Reds' Hall of Fame yesterday, and one member of the Orioles' organization took special interest.

Trainer Richie Bancells vividly remembers the 1997 season, Davis' first with the Orioles, and the discovery that the right fielder had colon cancer. Davis stood on the on-deck circle during a game in Cleveland, then returned to the dugout and asked Bancells to feel a lump in his stomach that was causing sharp pains.

The Orioles continued their road trip in New York, but Davis was sent to Baltimore for further examinations after the pain worsened. A baseball-sized mass was discovered, confirming Bancells' worst fears.

"I can't say that I called it a tumor because that's out of my league," Bancells said. "But my experiences with muscle pulls and strains told me it didn't feel like that, which makes you wonder all the other things that might be going on."

Davis underwent his 11th chemotherapy treatment after Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. He hit a pinch-hit homer in Game 5 in Cleveland, as the Orioles sent the series back to Baltimore before the Indians eliminated them.

Players inscribed Davis' No. 24 on their caps to honor Davis that season. Overcome with emotion, former outfielder Tony Tarasco cried in the dugout before a game.

It wasn't uncommon for Davis to watch television and munch on a sandwich during his treatments in Baltimore, so casual that he put others at ease.

"It's a lesson for anybody who has to go through any kind of cancer situation," Bancells said. "He was strong from the get-go. Just from the time I talked to him after he knew he had it, he was like, `This isn't going to beat me.' He faced it head-on. He was positive the whole way.

"E.D.'s always been a great guy, a great player. I enjoyed every minute that he was here."

Around the horn

Jay Gibbons didn't take batting practice again yesterday because of a stomach virus, and he remained out of the lineup. He was available to pinch hit. ... The Orioles will miss Roger Clemens when Houston visits for a three-game series that begins tomorrow. Brandon Backe, Andy Pettitte and Wandy Rodriguez will pitch for the Astros.

Orioles today

Opponent: Cincinnati Reds

Site, time: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, 1:15 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Sidney Ponson (6-3, 4.94) vs. Reds' Ramon Ortiz (1-4, 6.25)

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