Brower to pitch from the stretch

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Struggling reliever looks to cut walks

Millar psyched to face Sox

April 08, 2006|By ROCH KUBATKO | ROCH KUBATKO,SUN REPORTER

Unable to get the desired results while pitching from a windup, Orioles reliever Jim Brower said he'll continue to work exclusively from the stretch until his mechanics improve and runners stop littering the bases.

Brower lost effectiveness as the Orioles moved further through their exhibition schedule, finishing with a 5.06 ERA in 10 2/3 innings, and he allowed two runs and walked two in two innings Wednesday.

"I'm a little more comfortable from the stretch right now. That's where I've had most of my success," he said before allowing three runs, five hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings of last night's 14-8 loss to Boston. "I've been walking guys out of my windup the last two outings. But there's no big overhaul needed. Maybe I'm just rushing from the windup. I'm too excited when I come in. But my pitches are all there and my arm feels great."

Brower, who allowed 12 hits and walked seven in exhibition games, is satisfied with his velocity and the movement on his pitches. At least he's missing low, rather than seeing the ball dart outside the strike zone, which happened early last season with San Francisco.

"Now when I miss, it's down, and that's a great sign for me," he said. "I know I'm real close to being where I need to be."

Millar `extra fired up'

The hugs and handshakes were out of the way, the reunions already taking place in spring training with his former teammates. Last night was the time for Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar to at least pretend that the Red Sox were just another opponent.

Not everyone was buying it.

"I'm sure Mr. Millar will be extra fired up," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "Maybe that'll quiet him down. Who knows?"

Not likely.

"Now it's time to go out there and beat them," Millar said. "I've totally turned the page. I'm with the Orioles."

And he wants to stay in their lineup after bursting out of the gates with a .455 average and three RBIs in the Tampa Bay series.

"I mentioned to him that I might give him a day off. I didn't get a good reaction from him," Perlozzo said, grinning. "I might go back to the drawing board."

J. Lopez to catch today

Javy Lopez is expected to make his first start behind the plate today after again serving as the designated hitter last night.

Perlozzo said he'll probably use Ramon Hernandez at catcher the next five games after Lopez's start, including four straight against the Devil Rays that will mark the Orioles' first road trip of the season.

"I like Ramon in there against those scatbacks in Tampa," Perlozzo said.

Lopez batted .128 in spring training and was removed from first base so he could concentrate on his hitting. He went 4-for-11 (.364) with a double, triple and three RBIs in the Tampa Bay series before going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts last night.

"I'm in a situation where I really have no choice but accepting my role," he said. "In doing that, I feel I'm concentrating a lot more. ...

"I kind of watched Bernie Williams in the WBC. He was DHing most of the time and I saw how he was getting prepared to hit. He was basically riding the bike the whole time to keep himself warmed up. I can do that for the first five innings, but after that I get worn out."

Roberts to get break

Second baseman Brian Roberts most likely will begin tomorrow's game on the bench, though he's healthy enough to play. Perlozzo approached him with the idea yesterday.

"He said he's OK, but he gets some treatment and we need him for the long haul," Perlozzo said. "I looked at the numbers. You can't always go by [them], but if you're thinking about giving a guy a day off, the numbers would match up on Sunday. And it would be a good time. Otherwise, you're going to have a night game followed by a mid-afternoon game and then come back with a day game.

"If any time was going to test him or break him down, that Sunday would be the day."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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