O's place Wright on DL

starter's return uncertain

May 01, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

DETROIT -- The Orioles placed starting pitcher Jaret Wright on the 15-day disabled list yesterday, though they aren't sure when - if at all - the veteran will return to the team's rotation.

Wright lasted only three innings Sunday against the Cleveland Indians before the pain in his right shoulder became too much to bear. The 31-year-old pitcher did not travel here with the rest of his teammates and instead returned to Baltimore. He'll head to California later this week to meet with Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed surgery on Wright's shoulder in 2000 and 2001.

"It's too much for him right now," Orioles vice president Jim Duquette said. "He wants to see Dr. Yocum to see if there is anything major going on. Until we know all the information, we don't want to speculate."

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said he is hopeful Wright, who is 0-3 with a 6.97 ERA in three games, will return at some point this season, but the organization can't be sure.

"I think what we saw was a guy that is a tremendous competitor, and his arm wouldn't let him compete," Perlozzo said. "I'm sure there was a thought in the back of his mind that `maybe I can't pitch anymore.' I don't know. Those things will go through anybody's mind when you just come off the DL and you were hoping for better things and they didn't happen."

With Wright going on the disabled list, the Orioles recalled Kurt Birkins from Triple-A Norfolk. Perlozzo said Birkins will be used as a long reliever. Meanwhile, the club continues to consider its options to replace Wright in the rotation. Because of Thursday's open date, the Orioles can skip that spot in the rotation this time around, so they won't need a fifth starter until next Tuesday, when they start a three-game series at Camden Yards against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

One player who will certainly not take his place is Hayden Penn, the organization's top pitching prospect, who has been shut down and is planning to have surgery to repair a bone chip in his right elbow. Penn, 22, who has made 14 major league starts, was trying to rehabilitate the elbow, but that plan has apparently been scrapped. Penn will likely miss a good portion of this season.

The front office has also been calling around to see whether there are available starters, but the trade options are slim. The Orioles have had discussions with the Colorado Rockies in the past about Byung-Hyun Kim and Josh Fogg; however, at this point, the Orioles believe current long relievers Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Burres are probably better options.

Guthrie made the start in place of Wright the first time he went to the disabled list this season and allowed just one earned run in five innings against the Oakland Athletics.

"[Trades] are obviously something that we always monitor, but right now, we feel we have enough options from within," Duquette said. "[Guthrie and Burres] have both pitched well, and we are giving serious consideration to either one of them, both in the short term and the long term."

Meanwhile, several Orioles expressed disappointment in the news about Wright. Pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who tutored Wright in Atlanta when the right-hander had his best season, spoke to the pitcher in the tunnel of the visiting dugout in Cleveland after he was removed from the game.

"I stayed with him for a little bit, and you could see the emotion on him," Mazzone said. "He told me, `I want to be out there competing so bad, but my arm is just not letting me do it.' It was very tough. We have a great relationship, and it wasn't much fun. Let me tell you something: If he can't go out and pitch because he is hurt, then he is really hurt."


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