Perlozzo: DuBose faces learning curve

He wants extra pitch from lefty, Mora contract

March 17, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

JUPITER, Fla. -- Eric DuBose didn't help the Orioles make any decisions about their bullpen yesterday.

The left-hander had pitched well in his previous three spring appearances but allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in three innings of work against theSt. Louis Cardinals. On the bright side, the three hits in the first inning were modestly struck singles.

"I thought he looked fair," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "Not bad, just not his best."

DuBose and John Halama, who will start today against Washington, are candidates to pitch in long relief.

"He's actually pitched a little better this spring than he did last season," Perlozzo said of DuBose. "I want him to get his curveball going, because I think he needs it."

DuBose has mixed fastballs and changeups in the past, a practice that leaves him vulnerable when his off-speed pitch is off, Perlozzo said. The curve would give him another option.

"I think he needs that pitch to be better than he is," the manager said.

Perlozzo said he sees DuBose, a starter through his minor league career, pitching in long and middle relief.

"If the starter gets knocked out early, he can be a bridge, give us five or six innings," he said.

DuBose pitched effectively against left-handed hitters last season so he could also be used to get them out in the late innings, Perlozzo said.

The manager said one mediocre performance won't change his view.

"Unless he falls totally on his face, I know what he's about."

Perlozzo on Mora

Perlozzo said he hopes team management and third baseman Melvin Mora can compromise on a new contract.

"My opinion is that both sides need to give," he said. "There's a certain amount of loyalty that needs to be shown on both sides."

Perlozzo said he's expressed his opinion to his bosses and offered to support Mora, who is reportedly seeking a three-year deal for $30 million.

Perlozzo said he doesn't want the contract uncertainty to linger throughout the season.

"Yeah, I worry about that," he said. "But you know, it's a fact of life. Players have to not let that affect them. There's no excuse for that."

"We're waiting for a response from them," said Mora's agent, Lon Babby. "There's no firm deadline, but Melvin would prefer to not see this go past Opening Day."

Classic returns

Perlozzo said he expects catcher Ramon Hernandez to be back in camp today. Hernandez started for the Venezuelan team eliminated from the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday.

Puerto Rico was eliminated by Cuba on Wednesday, meaning Javy Lopez and Luis Matos should also return soon. Perlozzo said he had called Lopez but didn't know when he would be back. He said he's eager to see how the veteran catcher looks playing first.

"All the reports coming in say he's been doing pretty good," he said.

Lopez's performance at first could have a wider impact on the club's roster construction. If he looks uncomfortable there, the Orioles might carry only Lopez and Hernandez at catcher. But if Lopez is the primary starter at first, the club might be inclined to keep a third catcher, such as Geronimo Gil, on hand.

Perlozzo admitted he doesn't have much clearer answers to such questions than he did when camp started.

"I'm still in the same mode," Perlozzo said. "I don't know, either."

Mora left his own greetings for WBC players returning. Yesterday morning, he slapped strips of tape across their lockers and scrawled messages on each.

"Welcome home Javy Lopez, we love you," he wrote.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

Sun staff writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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