BOSTON -- Hoping to get his No. 5 starter back on track, Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo informed Bruce Chen yesterday that his next turn in the rotation is being skipped.
Chen was scheduled to start Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers but with the Orioles having an off day tomorrow, Perlozzo decided to move the left-hander to the bullpen for the next several games before allowing him to make his start Saturday against Kansas City. The rest of the rotation will now be on its regular four days' rest and Rodrigo Lopez will start Wednesday.
"He's been really ineffective," said Perlozzo, explaining the decision. "I just feel that it was the best decision for him and for the ballclub. Right now, it's just a one-time thing and it's only pushing him back for a couple of days. It will take a little pressure off of him, maybe relax him a little. We'll try to get him in a game or two [in relief], see if he can't have a couple of good innings for us and be ready to come back and have a good start."
Chen is 0-4 with an 8.40 ERA. He has given up 11 home runs, tied for the most in the major leagues, in 30 innings. He has gotten through the fifth inning just once in his past four starts.
"I'm obviously not very happy, but on the other hand, I'm not pitching good," Chen said. "I think the best thing for me is to go out and pitch every five days, but I have to make the most out of a difficult situation. I can't go out there with a negative attitude. That won't help me. I have to go out there and try to keep battling."
Perlozzo said that he doesn't think there is anything wrong with Chen's mechanics. He just feels that the left-hander has lacked the command that he had last year where he went 13-10 and was arguably the rotation's most consistent performer. The Orioles rewarded him with a one-year, $3.8 million deal and Perlozzo said that there has been no talk of removing him permanently from the rotation.
"I haven't thought about anything other than to get him to pitch better," Perlozzo said. "I told him not to think about anything else besides getting ready for your next start. Don't read nothing else into this. Any other talk about anything else is negative vibes."
The Orioles knew they'd miss their second baseman and leadoff man Brian Roberts, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin. But they probably didn't expect his absence to have this much of an impact.
Including last night, Roberts has not started nine games and the Orioles' record in those games is 1-8. Roberts was hitting .330 with 13 runs when he went on the disabled list. In games where he hasn't started, Orioles leadoff hitters, a group that includes David Newhan, Brandon Fahey, Luis Terrero and Corey Patterson, are hitting .103 (4-for-39) with three runs.
"We miss Brian," said Perlozzo. "There's no question about it."
Markakis finding swing
Emerging from a frustrating 0-for-14 slump, rookie outfielder Nick Markakis has hits in five of his past seven games, putting his average back up over the .200 mark. Markakis had two hits Friday night off Boston starter Curt Schilling, giving the rookie his first multi-hit game of the season.
Markakis, 1-for-4 last night, credits his recent success to being more aggressive early in counts. Too often earlier in the season, Markakis would find himself down 0-2 before even taking a swing.
"It's been a couple of weeks and I learn stuff," Markakis said. "You take too many pitches early in the count, these pitchers are not going to give you anything good to hit. They are going to put it right on the corners and make you chase pitches. I'm just going up there and trying to be a little more aggressive, trying to get that one pitch to hit."
Around the horn
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has noticed the influence of pitching coach Leo Mazzone on the Orioles' staff. "They've been pitching totally different. It's not like they challenge like they used to. They just hit their spots." ... David Newhan, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a fractured right fibula, got his splint off on Friday and now has his foot in a boot. Newhan is still not supposed to put any weight on the leg for two weeks.