Struggling Baez to continue role as setup man


Reliever's ERA has taken a hit in May, but not his confidence

May 20, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- The month of May began with a loss for Orioles reliever Danys Baez. And it hasn't grown much kinder to him as the days pass.

Baez, who wasn't used last night, has posted a 9.00 ERA in May, allowing eight earned runs in eight innings. Two of those runs scored Friday night when Ryan Zimmerman homered off him in the eighth inning to reduce the Orioles' lead to 5-4 and make them sweat out a victory.

Compare those numbers to April, when he allowed four runs in 12 1/3 innings for a 2.92 ERA as the club's right-handed setup man.

So what's been the difference? "The difference is April and May," he said, grinning. "That's the only thing different."

Baez clearly isn't alarmed by his struggles, which include allowing six earned runs in his last three-plus innings - two coming on Troy Glaus' game-winning homer last Monday in Toronto.

"I've just got to keep pitching. That's it," he said. "It's a long season and you have to keep working and working."

Manager Sam Perlozzo is committed to keeping Baez in a setup role "for a little while," but not if the results don't improve.

"You don't want to go out and lose ballgames because of it," he said. "He's been used quite a bit. I really believe in him. We'll keep working with him."

Perlozzo noted that, like many pitchers, Baez runs into trouble when he leaves the ball up in the strike zone.

"When it's up, it's straight," Perlozzo said. "When it's down, he's got some movement with it."

Said Baez, who signed a three-year, $19 million contract over the winter: "Sometimes you throw a pitch right there [in a bad location] and the guy hits a fly ball and you're the best pitcher in the big leagues," he said. "Sometimes you throw a nasty pitch and the guy hits it out of the ballpark and you're not very good. That's how baseball is."

Williamson still waiting

Coming off the disabled list hasn't gotten Scott Williamson into a game.

Williamson hasn't pitched since the Orioles activated him last Sunday. He went on the disabled list April 24 with tightness in his right triceps tendon and made rehab stops in Single-A Delmarva and Frederick and Double-A Bowie, going 1-0 with a 15.00 ERA in six innings.

"You'd obviously like to get in there and pitch, but I got activated and we played Boston and [Jeremy] Guthrie threw the game he did, and we go to Toronto and the next two [games], our starters pretty much went the distance."

Williamson thought he might be used Wednesday in relief of Brian Burres, but Chad Bradford went a season-high two innings.

"I really haven't had an opportunity for my role," he said. "I don't think it's that they're not using me because they don't want to. I just don't think the time has arose to go out there and pitch yet."

The Orioles stretched out Williamson at Bowie, allowing him to throw two-plus innings, but the gesture has been countered by his inactivity with them. He's thrown one bullpen session, and he warmed up Wednesday.

"My arm feels really good now," he said. "I don't know if it was kind of a blessing in disguise a little bit. It feels a lot better now. I had time to rest. But you just want to get out there and pitch and get in a rhythm.

"It's frustrating in the sense of [not] pitching, but I'm not frustrated as a player. You want to get out there and pitch because you want to get in a rhythm and get going, and that usually means you pitched well. If you sit a long time ... for me, I've never pitched very well doing that. Being off a long time, I've always been very bad."

Huff, Gibbons sit

Perlozzo withheld Aubrey Huff and Jay Gibbons from the lineup again last night, but indicated that they'd both start today against left-hander Micah Bowie. Both players were used as pinch hitters last night.

Huff, whose sacrifice fly in the eighth tied the game, was hitting .308 in his past 13 games before last night, but was 4-for-22 on the road trip.

"You have so many different guys that you have to put in," Huff said. "He's playing the hot hand right now. Kevin [Millar] is playing first. He's been swinging the bat well."

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