O's pitching staff going through 'growing pains'

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

July 11, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun reporter

TORONTO - When the Orioles inserted two rookies into their starting rotation this season, they knew there would be some rough times ahead.

Those times have arrived.

After rookie left-hander Garrett Olson allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings Wednesday night, the club's starters' ERA jumped to 5.08, worst in the American League.

"Probably four of the five guys starting now have less than a year and a half worth of starts," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "We can't lose sight of that. When they stumble, hopefully they learn from it and can keep moving forward."

The Orioles were also 12th in the league in innings pitched by starters despite the efforts of Jeremy Guthrie (who moved to second in the league with 129 innings after lasting seven last night) and Daniel Cabrera (fifth in the league with 124 2/3 ).

"We can throw any kind of numbers that you want around, but I will tell you this: We probably have the least-experienced starting rotation and the toughest division to pitch in," Kranitz said. "It would be crazy if we said we weren't going to have any growing pains through this."

Olson, fellow rookie Radhames Liz and Brian Burres - and, to a lesser extent, Guthrie and Cabrera - are still learning in the big leagues, manager Dave Trembley said. It's one of the drawbacks of having a young team.

"Growing pains, learning curve, you are going to have your ups and downs," Trembley said. "You've got to be realistic about it. Obviously, you don't particularly like going through it, but you know you are going to go through it."

Trembley, who spent much of his career developing minor leaguers, said no matter how much seasoning a player might receive in the minors, he will have to adjust to playing with the big boys.

"This is another animal. The lights are brighter, the players are better," Trembley said. "All the experience you get in the minor leagues is to your benefit, but I still think there is a certain amount of adjustment that is being made here, and it's almost like on-the-job training at this level. Because all of the sudden, there is no development. It is all about winning."

Getting comfortable

Brandon Fahey was batting .200 when he was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk in April. He was hitting .279 in 43 games with the Tides when he was recalled June 27, and he seemed to have carried some of that confidence north.

He had seven hits in his first 25 at-bats (.280) after being recalled before going 0-for-4 last night, and many of his outs were hit hard. Fahey said he has been working with hitting coach Terry Crowley to shorten his swing, allowing him to wait longer before committing to pitches.

"Whenever your swing is shorter, you have a lot more time to let the ball get there and react to it, and you're not worrying about crushing the balls," he said. "I'm just trying to hit line drives or put the ball on the ground. And it has worked so far."

Trembley said he thinks Fahey is more relaxed this time around.

"He knows he is going to play," Trembley said. "Before, he probably thought every time out there was life or death with him."

Around the horn

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts finished fourth in the online voting for the final AL All-Star roster spot. Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria won the vote. ... Trembley said he expects left-hander Adam Loewen to decide how to proceed with his injured left elbow in the next few days.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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