Kline refuses Bowie


Baldwin let go

Finding room for Bedard sets off bullpen shuffle

Aaron writes Palmeiro


July 19, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

MINNESOTA - To activate pitcher Erik Bedard for last night's start against Minnesota, the Orioles apparently wanted to send struggling reliever Steve Kline to Double-A Bowie.

But Kline said he refused the assignment, and with few other options, the Orioles designated long reliever James Baldwin for assignment. The Orioles now have 10 days to trade Baldwin, pass him through waivers or give him his release. If Baldwin clears waivers, the Orioles could option the veteran back to Triple-A Ottawa, but Baldwin would have to accept the assignment.

Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie declined to comment when asked to confirm that Kline, who entered last night with a 5.61 ERA in 43 games, had refused the assignment. However, because of Kline's years of service in the league, he does have the right. Struggling earlier this year, New York's Jason Giambi also turned down a minor league request.

In the offseason, the Orioles signed both the left-handed Kline and right-hander Steve Reed to bolster the bullpen, but now apparently are willing to part with both. Reed was designated for assignment last week when Jason Grimsley returned.

Baldwin, an 11-year major league veteran, had pitched well for the Orioles, compiling a 1.61 ERA in 12 appearances. However, he seemingly was the victim of a numbers game.

With the Orioles' acquisition of Florida starting pitcher A.J. Burnett still alive early in the day, the club had to consider his possible addition to the rotation would likely drop one of the current starters - possibly struggling right-hander Sidney Ponson - to the long relief role. Thus, Baldwin, who was informed of the decision about 45 minutes before last night's game and after reporters had left the clubhouse, no longer would have a role.

Beattie acknowledged a potential trade did affect the decision.

"That's why we waited [on the roster move]. Otherwise, we might have tried to do something a little bit earlier, but we are respecting the information coming in and the timing of it."

Contacted by the king

Rafael Palmeiro said his achievement still hasn't sunk in yet, even as reminders of his 3,000th hit, which he collected Friday night in Seattle, come each and every day.

Major League Baseball took out a full-page ad, signed by commissioner Bud Selig, in yesterday's USA Today, honoring Palmeiro on his milestone.

The Orioles first baseman got an even greater surprise when he checked his e-mail yesterday.

Home run king Hank Aaron started the e-mail by saying, "Welcome to the Club," in block letters. Palmeiro had already gotten a congratulatory call from President Bush.

"It's very nice that he took time to recognize me," said Palmeiro. "Hank Aaron, in my mind, in my eyes, was a tremendous player. If there is a baseball god, he's it."

J. Lopez awaits rehab stint

Catcher Javy Lopez, out since May 24 with a broken right hand, took batting and fielding practice and could be sent on a rehabilitation assignment by the weekend.

"He just wanted to get in the habit of doing the extra work," said Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli. "He hit extremely well. He'll hit tomorrow early again."

Mazzilli said he'd like Lopez to get 25 at-bats in the minors before returning to the Orioles.

Sosa back in right, No. 5

After getting the day off Sunday in Seattle, Sammy Sosa returned to the Orioles' lineup last night, batting fifth and playing in right field. In his past three starts, Sosa had batted second as the designated hitter.

Sosa, who hadn't played the outfield since June 30, responded with a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

"It wasn't written in stone," Mazzilli said before the game of Sosa batting second. "It's all changeable. That's a part of it. When you manage, you try to get guys going."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Minnesota Twins

Site, time: Metrodome, Minneapolis, 8:10

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (8-7, 4.70) vs. Twins' Kyle Lohse (7-8, 4.42)

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