Skipped over: Burres to sit out Thursday

Starter has struggled with control

Jordan: Matusz signing won't drag

June 08, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

TORONTO -- Orioles pitcher Brian Burres has struggled for stretches before, but he doesn't remember a time when he has had so much trouble locating his off-speed stuff. He'll now get a couple of extra days to figure out what is causing his command problems.

A day after Burres failed to make it through the fifth inning for a third straight start, Orioles manager Dave Trembley announced that he'll skip the left-hander's next start in the rotation. Tomorrow's day off before a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox will allow Trembley to bring back Jeremy Guthrie, who started yesterday, on regular rest for Thursday's series finale in Boston.

"I had Burres for a couple of years in Triple-A and I've seen Burres run into these types of things before, and when he does, we always just backed him up and gave him an extra day's rest," Trembley said. "Because he's slight of frame - and let's be honest, the guy's been hit around a little bit - I don't want to lose him, confidence-wise. We'll get him back in there when we go home."

Burres (4-5) has just one win in his past eight starts. He allowed three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings Friday but was bailed out of a loss with the Orioles' six-run eighth-inning rally. In his past three starts, Burres has surrendered 18 earned runs and 27 hits and logged just 12 innings. He went at least six innings in six of his first nine starts.

"I'm just still trying to figure stuff out," said Burres, whose ERA has risen from 3.16 to 4.96 over his past three outings. "When I'm behind, the only thing I can really throw for a strike right now is the fastball, and I really don't have one of those fastballs where I can get away with throwing it a lot in fastball counts. Right now, I'm just going to try to work on getting a couple of off-speed pitches [that] I can throw for a strike."

Asked before Trembley's announcement about the possibility of getting skipped, Burres said: "Honestly, whatever he wants to do. I'm no stranger to that."

Sign up here

Orioles director of scouting Joe Jordan planned yesterday to call Mark Agar, the agent for first-round draft pick Brian Matusz, to start contract negotiations the club hopes will not drag on too long.

"I'm going to call Mark and kind of get moving on this," Jordan said. "Based on my conversations before the draft, I don't think it will be done within the next five days, but I do think we'll be able to move forward on it pretty quick. I've reached out to basically all of [the Orioles' picks] and made initial contact. We're going to be aggressive. We're going to try to move forward and try to get some of these kids done."

Last year's fourth overall pick, Daniel Moskos, a left-handed pitcher out of Clemson, was given a $2.475 million signing bonus when he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Orioles have until Aug. 15 to sign Matusz before they will be forced to relinquish his draft rights. The Orioles signed catcher Matt Wieters, last year's first-round pick, right before the deadline, but Jordan doesn't expect a repeat of that.

"I haven't given one thought to Aug. 15," Jordan said. "I don't think it's relevant. I don't expect us to be playing that game again. I think we're in good shape. I just have to get going on it and move it forward."

He's still safe

Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora tripped before crossing the plate after his eighth-inning, two-run homer Friday. He was able to get his balance before falling to the ground, but the stumble still drew some ribbing from teammates.

Asked yesterday whether the incident was embarrassing, Mora said: "No way. After that homer, I would have dove into home plate."

Around the horn

Trembley said the club might intermittently skip several starters' spots in the rotation over the next month to give everyone a little break. He also reiterated that he's content with Jim Johnson as the club's prime eighth-inning setup man. ... With Mora given yesterday off, Adam Jones hit second for the first time this season. ... Blue Jays left fielder Shannon Stewart was removed from the game after spraining his right ankle trying to beat out a ground ball in the first inning. Vernon Wells (wrist), who was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, took his place.

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