O's shuffle 6, recall Freire, pitchers DuBose, Rakers

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Ponson, Surhoff go on DL

Ray optioned to Bowie

coach Cash finally arrives

August 10, 2005|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

The Orioles may have only been on the road for a week, but by the time they returned home yesterday, they looked, in some corners of the clubhouse, like a completely different team.

Not only did the club have a new manager and a new first base coach, it also put pitcher Sidney Ponson (strained right calf) and outfielder B.J. Surhoff (strained left groin) on the disabled list and optioned reliever Chris Ray to the minors.

To take their place, the Orioles called up pitcher Eric DuBose from Double-A Bowie, as well two players from Triple-A Ottawa: first baseman Alejandro Freire and pitcher Aaron Rakers. And there may be at least one more move on the horizon. Jim Beattie, the team's executive vice president, said the organization cut short John Maine's latest minor league start in case the Orioles decide to call him up to start Saturday's game.

Both Ponson and Surhoff are expected to be back in two weeks, but for now Beattie said the team will go with an eight-man bullpen. The Orioles don't have to make a move on their 40-man roster until at least tomorrow, when Rafael Palmeiro is expected back from his 10-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's steroid policy.

The demotion of Ray, who will report to Bowie, was the only real surprise, considering he has been, at times, one of the team's most effective relievers. In 24 1/3 innings, Ray gave up 21 hits and eight earned runs for a club-leading 2.96 ERA. But he allowed earned runs in each of his past four appearances.

According to manager Sam Perlozzo, the move should be temporary.

"Chris, lately, has not been himself." Perlozzo said. "He's a late-inning guy. He was a closer and he's been struggling a little bit lately. Trying to use him in the fifth and sixth inning and trying to get him out there two innings is not really Chris Ray. He needs to get his confidence back. My goodness, I hope he goes down there and just dazzles them and gets his butt back up here. His arm is outstanding and he's going to have a lot of good years in the big leagues."

For DuBose, who will likely pitch in long relief, the move represents a second chance of sorts. The 29-year-old Florida native started 14 games in 2004 for the Orioles, but didn't exactly endear himself to management when he was arrested during spring training in Florida and charged with driving under the influence. In 22 minor league starts this year, he's gone 8-10 with a 3.25 ERA.

"I think I've worked on some things down there, and I think I've gotten better." DuBose said. "I'm not sure what my role is going to be, but whatever they ask me to do, I'll be ready to go. The [DUI] is something in the past, and I don't think that had anything to do with [the extended time in the minors]."

Both Rakers and Freire were thrilled to be up with the big league club, but Freire, who made his major league debut last night at age 31 after stints with the Houston, Detroit and San Francisco organizations, seemed especially pleased. After batting .299 with 19 home runs and 69 RBIs this season for Ottawa, Freire started last night at designated hitter, and nearly hit a home run on the very first pitch he saw, driving a Scott Kazmir fastball to the warning track in right-center for a long out.

"You never expect that you are going to be in the big leagues." Freire said. "It was my first time and I was surprised. I think all my work all those years paid off. I am pretty happy to be here. If they give me a chance, I am going to take advantage of it."

Long trip for Cash

After coaching for 18 years in the minors, the Orioles' new first base coach, Dave Cash, couldn't wait to get to Baltimore when he got the call to join the big league club, but it wasn't easy.

Cash, a coach for Triple-A Ottawa, packed up some things, closed out his bank account, and made a beeline for the U.S.-Canadian border. But when he finally got there, there was a line of cars, he estimated, more than two miles long.

"It was a long, long wait there before my turn finally came." Cash said.

Cash could have just as easily been talking about his coaching career. He spent the last nine years as a coach in the Orioles' farm system and the last three in Ottawa. He first started coaching in 1988, and spent one season as the Philadelphia Phillies' first base coach in 1996.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Site, time: Camden Yards, 7:05

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

Starters: Devil Rays' Casey Fossum (6-8, 3.89) vs. Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (10-6, 4.74)

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