Lack of relief to inspire some role shuffling

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Assigning a closer, promoting Olson could be among moves

August 03, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporter

BOSTON -- Even before watching his team lose another game largely because of his middle relievers' inability to get key outs, manager Dave Trembley took responsibility for the team's bullpen problems and said he plans to tinker with some roles.

While Trembley said that no final decisions have been reached, he acknowledged that the club is considering pushing long reliever Rob Bell back to more of a setup role and calling up top prospect Garrett Olson to join the rotation. That would allow Trembley to use current No. 5 starter Brian Burres out of the bullpen.

He also said he is considering naming a full-time closer to replace injured Chris Ray, rather than relying on a closer-by-committee approach. Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford have been in the closer's role since Ray has been out, severely weakening the Orioles' middle relief.

"It seems like right now the inning that's the Achilles' heel is the seventh," Trembley said. "I've got to find a better way to get three outs in the seventh no matter who it is. If I can get three outs in the seventh, it will clear up some other questions."

Bell couldn't get those outs yesterday afternoon as he entered a tie game in the seventh and gave up four runs, though Trembley and catcher Paul Bako said that the veteran right-hander deserved a far better fate. A night earlier, Paul Shuey and John Parrish faced four batters in the seventh and couldn't get an out as the Orioles blew a 3-1 seventh-inning lead.

Trembley said that there were no immediate plans to make roster moves and that the changes would come from shifting roles. But it's possible that the latest bullpen implosion could prompt a more extensive overhaul and accelerate Jim Hoey's return to the majors.

However, Trembley said that he'd definitely like to get away from using Walker and Bradford to close games, which likely could lead to Danys Baez being named the full-time closer.

"I don't really like to keep going to Bradford and Walker," Trembley said. "That's not what their role is. They've done it, but I still think in the long run, it's going to catch up to you if you continue to do it."

Trembley said that Burres will definitely start tomorrow night against Tampa Bay, but a decision may be made shortly thereafter about his future in the rotation. Olson is 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Norfolk since his demotion. Trembley said that Olson has the team's attention and if a move is made, it shouldn't be taken as a demotion for Burres.

"I know Brian well enough that he won't look at it that way," said Trembley. "Burres has been a very valuable guy for us, but I think he can go either way. He can be a fifth starter and he can be a long guy."

Bedard honored

When Erik Bedard beat the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday to complete an outstanding July, Trembley called him one of the best pitchers in the league, but he said the left-hander's low-key personality prevents him from getting such recognition.

Apparently, others around the game have started to take notice. Bedard yesterday was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for July. It is the first time an Oriole has won the award since Ben McDonald in April 1994. Bedard went 5-0 with a 2.21 ERA in six July starts, racking up 52 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings.

"It's hard to explain. I've just been more consistent with all my pitches, I don't walk as many guys and I've had a lot of luck," said Bedard, who will receive a new television and a trophy. "I guess they didn't have a lot of choice so they put me on the spot. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here and to win this award."

Mora ready for rehab

Third baseman Melvin Mora (sprained right foot) will report to the club's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., this morning for a two-game rehabilitation stint for the Orioles' Gulf Coast League team.

"I want him to get four at-bats on Friday and four on Saturday," Trembley said. "I want him to DH both days. After both games, he's going to stay out after and take extra batting practice and take extra ground balls and conditioning. That will be a good barometer for where he is."

If all goes well, Mora could return for Sunday's series finale against the Devil Rays. Mora has just two at-bats since injuring the foot in a collision at the plate July 1.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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