Versatile Walker works his way into record book

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Left-hander's 77th appearance tops Ryan, T. Martinez for O's mark

September 18, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

NEW YORK -- When the Orioles signed Jamie Walker to a three-year, $12 million deal this offseason, several baseball pundits were astounded that a team would spend that much money on a left-handed relief specialist.

But Walker has proved to be much more than that this season, going 1-2 with a 3.40 ERA and five saves, while being asked to fill just about every role possible. In the Orioles' 8-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, Walker made his 77th appearance. That not only leads the American League, but it also broke a franchise record previously held by B.J. Ryan (2003 and 2004) and Tippy Martinez (1982).

"To be honest with you, I don't give a [darn] about personal achievements. It's not a big thing," Walker said. "I'm not here for that. I'm here to throw the ball when the manager asks me, God willing, if I'm able. If I could throw 162 [games], I would, but that's not possible. I take pride in appearances - toeing the hill, showing up and not calling in sick - and there are times I've gone out there when I was way less than 100 percent. In my mind, I think I can beat anybody."

Walker has held left-handed hitters to a .223 average this season, while right-handers have hit .283 against him.

"I would have loved to use him in the role that he came here for, and that was to be a situational pitcher, but because of our needs, he's done a little bit of everything," manager Dave Trembley said. "Boy, he's been so valuable to us. I don't know what we would have done as far as finishing some games.

"One of our main areas that we know we have to look at and improve is our bullpen. By doing that, it should allow us to get [Chad] Bradford and Walker back in the roles that they should be in. ... Probably a prime concern for us going into the offseason is getting our bullpen straightened out."

Walker, who went to the World Series last season with the Detroit Tigers, said this season has been a struggle.

"I think the injuries have exposed the whole system. There's got to be something they've got to do," Walker said. "It isn't anybody's fault but us in here. We're the ones to blame. Everyone can say, `Injuries, injuries,' but look at what the Yankees and other teams have done. They've got guys they can bring up. And I don't mean to knock anybody's ability, but you've got to have that, and I don't think they have that here.

"I hope we're not rebuilding, because I signed over here to be a contender. The owner's committed, I think. Peter [Angelos] went out and spent some money for us - it just didn't work out this year."

Patterson to have MRI

Orioles center fielder Corey Patterson, who missed his 11th straight game last night, was sent to Baltimore, where he'll have a magnetic resonance imaging this morning on his sprained left ankle. Patterson tried running the bases before last night's game but was shut down.

Trembley said there is a good chance Patterson will miss the rest of the road trip, but he won't know for sure until the club gets the results of the MRI.

"[Head trainer] Richie Bancells told me clinically that they've done everything that they can do and maybe they missed something," Trembley said. "They took X-rays, and the X-rays came back clean. Corey says that he can't make turns. It's obviously disappointing for all of us because I thought I was going to have him a few days ago."

Around the horn

Hitting coach Terry Crowley has a contract through next season. The Sun erroneously reported in yesterday's edition that his contract was up after this year. ... Garrett Olson (strained left forearm) was cleared to throw off flat ground yesterday, but he's still not ready to resume throwing from the mound. ... Third baseman Scott Moore rolled his ankle against Toronto on Sunday and will likely miss a couple of games. Trembley said he'd still like to give Moore opportunities at first base and left field before the season is over.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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