MINNEAPOLIS -- When Orioles left-handed reliever John Parrish completed 1 2/3 scoreless innings on Monday night, it represented his first major league action since June 11, 2005.
"It was a long time ago," said Parrish, who missed the entire 2006 season after having ligament-transplant surgery in July 2005. "It all erases after you get back and you're healthy."
It also represented the first step for Parrish in not only proving to Sam Perlozzo that he could be a reliable member of the bullpen, but also a guy the Orioles manager can trust in later innings. Perlozzo acknowledged yesterday that he has the confidence to use Parrish, who made the team after a strong spring, in any situation, though he'd prefer easing him in after such a long layoff.
"Ideally, I'd like to see Johnny not stressing too much, too soon, but I am not going to say I am not going to [use him in tough spots] either," Perlozzo said. "If I feel like he's the best guy later in the game, I'll just go ahead and do it. I'd like to see him get on a nice little role early and settle in, and we'll pitch him like we do anyone else."
On Monday, Parrish came on with two men on in the sixth inning. Parrish had two strikeouts and no hits allowed in the appearance.
In the past, he's been criticized for working too fast, which team officials felt made him prone to wildness, but several times in his debut, the 29-year-old stepped off the mound to take deep breaths.
"I feel more in control, more confident in the work I'm going to get," Parrish said. "As long as I keep throwing strikes, and maintaining that same strike zone in and out, then I'll throw in more games. And the more experience I get, the more comfortable I'll be. It was a little nerve-racking, but it was nice to get it out of the way."
O's OK with Morneau
Before last night's game, several Orioles made a point to gather around a small television in the clubhouse and watch replays of the home plate collision on Monday between Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau and Orioles catcher Paul Bako.
Morneau hit Bako in the face with his left elbow in an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the ball. Bako stayed in the game after a brief stoppage, but his chin was bloodied and he told Perlozzo that he felt like he was going to vomit.
Though it was clear that Morneau's elbow was extended, several Orioles, including Bako, did not feel like it was a dirty play.
"He plays hard," said Bako, who was checked out by doctors to make sure he didn't have a concussion. "I have no reason to question his integrity or anything like that. He tried to jar the ball loose, which I probably would have tried to do in the same situation. The only bad part was that he winded up hitting my chin. I wouldn't say it was dirty. It was a good, strong, tough baseball play."
Bako, who started on Opening Day only because of the strained left oblique injury to starting catcher Ramon Hernandez, said that he felt much better and was expecting to start last night, but Perlozzo held him out of the lineup in favor of Alberto Castillo.
"Supposedly when you take a blow like that, if you take another one in the next 48 hours, it can cause some other problems," Perlozzo said. "He was probably going to catch two of three anyway, and Castillo has caught [last night's starter Daniel Cabrera] in winter ball, so I thought it was the time to err on the side of caution and let Bako come back tomorrow."
Hernandez remains several days from returning to the lineup. He didn't take batting practice yesterday and he likely won't start hitting until the team is in New York later this week. It was initially hoped that he might be ready to start Friday's series opener against the Yankees, but that now looks less likely.
Outfielder Jay Payton, who remains on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, is eligible to play again next Wednesday. He is expected to start running later this week. It's likely that he'll go on a rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues before playing for the Orioles.
No worries about Bedard
A day after his ace, Erik Bedard, was pounded for six runs on 10 hits in just 4 2/3 innings, Perlozzo acknowledged that nerves may have been a factor in his pitcher's performance. Bedard appeared to abandon his changeup and curveball early in the game, allowing Twins hitters to sit on his fastball.
"I thought he got into some periods where he was throwing and not pitching," Perlozzo said. "He got away from pitching, what he was doing all spring. ... He'll be fine. He's the least of my concerns."