Penn may bring 6-man rotation

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Perlozzo sees pitcher, 21, starting when he is called up in September

August 23, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

The Orioles might use a six-man rotation once they call up prospect Hayden Penn in September, manager Sam Perlozzo said yesterday.

"I guess you could," Perlozzo said when asked about the concept. "Basically, we're in that now with all the off days. Once we lose our off days, I would think that could be a possibility."

Perlozzo said last weekend that Penn, 21, is almost certain to be one of the team's September call-ups. When asked whether the right-hander could work out of the bullpen, he said it's possible but not ideal.

"It could be possible. I would think if we bring him up, we would want to pitch him somewhere along the line. I don't know how we're going to do that yet. He could start and someone else could get bumped."

Penn is 6-4 with a 2.49 ERA at Triple-A Ottawa.

He threw 124 pitches in only 5 2/3 innings in his most recent start but Perlozzo didn't find that alarming. In fact, he was happy to see Penn show that kind of strength months after recovering from an emergency appendectomy.

"It's good that he was able to throw that many pitches," the manager said. "Baseball in general is overly concerned with pitch counts. If you go back, pitch counts were always 120-125, more than that for some guys."

Mazzone's lessons learned

Perlozzo says his starters are finally picking up Leo Mazzone's program of working low and outside.

"I think it's starting to show now," he said. "You see Adam Loewen, even Rodrigo [Lopez] is pounding the outer half low and away. [Erik] Bedard's been pounding down and away. Daniel Cabrera was starting to hit a lot of down-and-away strikes. They're going after strike one. It's starting to show, and hopefully, we can finish out strong with our pitchers and our young guys throwing the ball well, getting more consistent. We've got something to shoot for next year."

The Orioles still rank second to last in the American League in ERA at 5.31 going into last night, but they have lowered the figure in recent months.

Perlozzo also said he hopes to see his young pitchers finish the season well as a way of pointing toward better times next year. For example, his ace, Bedard, has never pitched a full season in the big leagues. Perlozzo said the left-hander has shown himself to be a different pitcher.

"He's taken his game to another level for me, makeup-wise and stuff-wise, just the whole thing," he said. "So I would be surprised if Erik Bedard doesn't go out and compete every time he goes out the rest of the way."

Fighting words

Perlozzo didn't offer much of a reaction when asked about Monday's apparent scuffle between Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons and pitcher Ted Lilly. But he once witnessed an extreme blow-up between manager Lou Piniella and reliever Rob Dibble in Cincinnati, and he has his theories on how to avoid such encounters.

"I've got to believe that if there's a confrontation between a manager and a player, I would assume there's something prior to it," he said. "If there's a problem, I try not to let it get to a point where it gets too volatile."

Perlozzo joked that a pitcher who had struggled as Lilly did should be happy to be lifted.

"I might be upset you didn't come and get me sooner," he said. "I've had guys look at me like, `What are you waiting for? Come and save me.'"

Reading All-Stars

Second baseman Brian Roberts and infielder Chris Gomez will read to 50 children before tonight's game against the Minnesota Twins. The children are the winning contestants in the Orioles Reading All-Stars Program. All those who completed the program got a T-shirt and two tickets to tonight's game.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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