Familiar name for O's reliever Walker's son


Pitcher returns to team after birth

uniforms likely the same for 2008

May 31, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

Kansas City, Mo. -- After missing the first two games of the series because he was in Baltimore after the birth of his fourth child, reliever Jamie Walker entered the Orioles' clubhouse about two hours before last night's game, carrying several boxes of cigars.

When he arrived at his locker, he was mobbed by teammates, who offered hugs and congratulatory handshakes and left with cigars.

"I had enough time to stop off at the tobacco store for the boys," Walker said. "I bought 50 [cigars], but they are all gone now. I smoked a couple. I ain't going to lie."

James Leyland Walker, weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces, was born early Monday morning in Baltimore. He was not named after Jim Leyland, Walker's manager last year with the Detroit Tigers, though the Orioles reliever had no problem if that is the conclusion people reach.

"If people think that I named him after him, that's fine," he said. "We actually picked this name out, but my wife loves Jim Leyland to death anyway. He's a [heck] of a manager, a [heck] of a guy."

Walker said the child was named after his wife's grandfather, whose first name was Leyland, and his father, whose name was James. Both fought in World War II, so Walker and his wife, Natalie, felt that would be an added touch because the child was born on Memorial Day.

Walker said his new boy "looks like me, unfortunately." The reliever said that he caught both Orioles games while he was away.

"I've been watching every game, I ain't going to [lie]," he said. "It was good to see that [Steve Trachsel] threw a [good] game. [Jeremy] Guthrie battled his [butt] off. If the bullpen got blew up the first day, I would have probably gotten on a flight. My wife knows. She knows the gig. This is like my second family, but definitely, my first family comes first."

No change of clothes

It appears today's deadline for notifying Major League Baseball of uniform changes for the 2008 season will pass without the Orioles doing much of anything.

The Orioles had informed MLB before the end of April that the club was considering making changes to its road uniforms. Though it didn't have to discuss the specific changes, the club was considering replacing "Orioles" on the road jerseys with "Baltimore," a move that would surely be well-received by fans who have complained about the issue for years.

But MLB rules state that to make a change to the uniforms for the next season, teams have to notify the league by the end of May. The Orioles have not done that to this point, and one team source said last night that he doubted that the team would do it before today's deadline.

Markakis sits, then hits

In the midst of an 0-for-10 slump and with only one hit in eight at-bats against last night's starter Gil Meche, Nick Markakis was not in the starting lineup for just the second time this season. But he entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning and hit a two-run home run in the ninth off Zach Greinke.

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo cited Markakis' numbers against Meche and the opportunity to give someone else a chance as factors in his not starting.

"He's been going at it pretty hard," Perlozzo said before the game. "He's hit some balls on the button and ends up with nothing. You see a little frustration. You got to pick somebody and Nicky could probably use the day off. Numbers are a little bit of it but certainly not everything."

In the eight games before last night, Markakis had either gone hitless or had a multi-hit game.

All-Star Game

MLB released its first All-Star balloting numbers for the American League, and shortstop Miguel Tejada is the only Orioles player among the top vote-getters at his position. Tejada is second among AL shortstops, more than 429,000 votes behind the New York Yankees' Derek Jeter.

Aside from Tejada, the Orioles don't have a player in the top five in voting at any position.


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