Cabrera's effort is world class

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Dominican pitcher excels with 4-inning Classic gem

March 16, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- The Orioles' clubhouse was still buzzing yesterday morning with talk of Daniel Cabrera's performance in the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.

The right-hander didn't allow a hit in four innings, walked one and struck out seven in the Dominican Republic's 2-1 victory over Venezuela.

"He was filthy," said Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons. "I've seen that quite a bit when he's on. He is a little bit wild and then he'll paint [the corner] at 100 miles per hour. It didn't look like any of their hitters wanted to step in against him at all."

Executive vice president Mike Flanagan and vice president Jim Duquette watched the game and were frequently interrupted by phone calls from people who were impressed by Cabrera.

"He threw exceptionally well," Flanagan said. "He had velocity, command, mound presence. It was a big game and ... it was really fun to watch."

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo has been resigned to not watching the tournament because of anxiety that one of his players could get injured. He said he "succumbed" to the temptation Tuesday night, rather than watching American Idol with his wife, because Cabrera was pitching and shortstop Miguel Tejada and catcher Ramon Hernandez also were playing in the game.

"He threw the ball really well, with a lot of confidence and against some really good hitters," Perlozzo said. "I was real pleased with him."

Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora, who was expected to play for Venezuela in the Classic but pulled out about a week before the event, said he spoke before the game to his close friend Edgardo Alfonzo, Venezuela's second baseman, who had wanted a scouting report on Cabrera.

"I told him the truth," Mora said. "He throws 98 to 101 [mph]. Sometimes he blows that thing near your head. I think they were scared, I don't know."

Asked if Cabrera lived up to his scouting report, Mora said, "That was no joke. He is exactly what we are going to need."

Markakis still has shot

With an 0-for-3 effort yesterday in the Orioles' 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox, outfielder Nick Markakis is now 2-for-21 in his past eight games.

The Orioles' top position prospect was once the talk of spring training after reaching base in 10 of his first 11 plate appearances. He led the Orioles in hitting early in the spring, but his average has fallen to .286.

Still, Perlozzo said that the 22-year-old has a shot to make the team and win a starting outfield job.

"I really believe that a decision on Nick is going to come down to the end," Perlozzo said. "I think it's not fair to watch him for two weeks and make a decision. I think he's got another couple of weeks to show us which way he goes and then we'll see what the makeup of the club is toward the end."

Two or three catchers?

Perlozzo said earlier this spring that he'd prefer keeping three catchers on his Opening Day roster, but yesterday he didn't sound so sure.

"That decision is up in the air right now, said Perlozzo, who didn't rule out the club acquiring a third catcher, rather than going with Geronimo Gil or Eli Whiteside behind Hernandez and Javy Lopez. "It's still being discussed. We'll probably have to work on that for another week or so until we make a decision. We'll see if we can come up with anybody else outside and see if it makes sense for us which way we'll go."

Around the horn

If the Detroit Tigers release first baseman Carlos Pena, which they reportedly will do, the Orioles would be interested. ... The Orioles reassigned pitcher Chris Britton, who allowed one earned run in four innings this spring, to the their minor league camp in Sarasota. ... Perlozzo is hoping that Hernandez, whose Venezuelan team was eliminated from the Classic on Tuesday night, will be back with the team today. ... Perlozzo gave Ed Rogers, a natural infielder, the start in left field yesterday.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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