A vote of confidence for Phillies rookie Floyd

NL notebook

July 02, 2006|By COMPILED FROM INTERVIEWS AND OTHER NEWSPAPERS' REPORTS.

It likely would have been the first time such a thing had happened in Baltimore. Surely, the first time at Camden Yards.

Alas, the ways of baseball quashed a chance at a historical oddity.

For a while, though, it looked as if two graduates of the same Baltimore high school would start against the Orioles here in the span of one week.

Last Saturday, Mike O'Connor, the Washington Nationals' rookie left-hander and 1998 Mount St. Joseph grad, allowed two runs in six innings against the Orioles.

Three days later, the Philadelphia Phillies came to town for a three-game series, and rookies started the first two games for the Phillies.

But neither was Gavin Floyd, the 2001 Mount St. Joseph grad and touted young Phillies right-hander.

Floyd pitched in seven big league games last season. And he made the majors out of spring training this year. But he lacked consistency, and after his fourth straight shaky start, Floyd was demoted to Triple-A on June 2 with a 4-3 record and 7.29 ERA.

He remained there as his big league team came to his hometown, even though the Phillies needed rotation help. Some observers question whether the polite Floyd has the demeanor to survive long-term in the majors.

But one man whose opinion counts has no worries about Floyd. The 23-year-old's only glaring deficiency is that he's inexperienced, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

"I think Gavin is definitely getting close," Manuel said. "He is still young. He needs experience and he needs to be consistent. I think the experience he got pitching up here this year is definitely going to help him. It's just a matter of time."

The talent is there - he has three big league pitches, including an impressive curveball - but so are lofty expectations. After all, he was taken with the fourth pick in the 2001 draft, one spot higher than another Mount St. Joseph grad, the Texas Rangers' Mark Teixeira.

"He's still learning from a mental standpoint, still learning to be a good pitcher," Manuel said. "He needs to be more consistent and work things out. But he'll be fine."

Eight's enough

The Cincinnati Reds have been one of baseball's surprise teams all season. But a recent eight-game winning streak apparently was the exclamation point. Chief executive officer Robert Castellini said he decided then that he needed to give some security to Reds manager Jerry Narron and new general manager Wayne Krivsky. Both are now signed through 2008 with 2009 club options.

"We were on a high," Castellini said. "That's pretty good for a team that was picked last by everybody."

A game to watch

The Chicago Cubs and White Sox finish up their annual rivalry today at Wrigley Field with Carlos Zambrano pitching for the home team and Mark Buehrle going for the White Sox. Zambrano threatened White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski earlier this season, and Buehrle, who grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan, has been public about his distaste for the Cubs.

Quick hits

Cubs GM Jim Hendry said he is still evaluating manager Dusty Baker's job status. That's often GM-speak for "get your resume ready." ... After two players got to Toronto late due to flight delays after a day off, Nationals manager Frank Robinson changed team policy: All players fly with the team now.

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