Perlozzo weighs pitching moves

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

With staff struggling, ERA high, changes to rotation considered

Notebook

May 18, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said his team's pitching struggles can't continue without ramifications to the makeup of his staff.

"I think eventually you'll come to a time where you're going to have to say, `That's it, guys, jobs are in jeopardy,' " Perlozzo said.

The Orioles have allowed more walks and more runners per inning than any other team in the American League. They have the second-worst ERA behind the 10-27 Kansas City Royals.

Perlozzo bemoaned his staff's lack of control after Tuesday night's loss to the Boston Red Sox, saying he couldn't afford to keep using four or five relievers a night. Injuries have forced him to shuffle his bullpen, but he declined to say when he might consider more substantial changes.

"I don't know that you can actually say a particular time," he said. "But I think any major league club that struggles in a certain area can only struggle so long before you've got to make some changes. It's not a negative change. ... You try to do something positive to help the club and to help the other player that's struggling. I don't look at that as a threat to anybody. It's certainly not a threat. It's the major leagues. You've got to produce."

The pitching woes have been particularly striking because coach Leo Mazzone was widely expected to help the staff. The Atlanta Braves led the National League in ERA 10 times during his 15 1/2 seasons as their pitching coach, and Mazzone's best starters were known for their superb command of the outside corner.

Perlozzo defended his friend's emphasis on extra throwing between starts.

"Hitters go out and they hit every day," he said. "Fielders take extra ground balls. It only makes sense that the more you work on a pitch, the better it should get.

"He's not going to get frustrated," Perlozzo said of Mazzone. "He gets disappointed [if] he's not helping somebody. He got quiet on the bench the other night in Rodrigo's [Lopez's] game after he came out. I asked him, `You OK?' He said, `I'm OK, but I need to find a way to help that guy.' You can believe one thing: He's not going to give up."

Roberts returns in Bowie

Second baseman Brian Roberts started for Double-A Bowie last night, going 1-for-3 with a single and a walk in his first game action since injuring his groin more than two weeks ago.

The Orioles hope he will return to major league action tomorrow against the Washington Nationals.

"I think the biggest thing for Brian is that he turns it up to game speed and gets rid of the tentativeness that he might have," Perlozzo said.

Interleague woes

The Orioles are excited for their first regular-season game against the Nationals tomorrow, but the National League hasn't been kind to them.

The Orioles' 64-93 record in interleague play is the third worst in baseball. Only the Pirates (49-72) and the Devil Rays (56-86) are worse.

"I do think the National League has the advantage just for the fact that their pitchers hit year-round," said right fielder Jay Gibbons. "I'm not saying that our managers were not prepared, but in the past, it seemed like the National League managers were more ready for double switches and had just a little more of an idea. They were a little more prepared for interleague."

Perlozzo isn't the biggest interleague fan either.

"It always seems to be a disadvantage for one team," he said. "Our pitchers obviously aren't as good bunting or swinging the bats as the National League guys are. They might not be carrying a guy who's good enough to DH. So it goes both ways."

Perlozzo said the club sent scouts to more National League games this year in hopes of improving its interleague performance.

As for playing the Nationals, he said, "You've got two cities close by each other and you're going to create your rivalry, a natural rivalry, and it's good for the game."

Tigers rainout rescheduled

The Orioles' May 11 rainout with the Detroit Tigers was rescheduled for Sept. 21 at 4:05 p.m.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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