Walker a minor stop from return

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

July 18, 2008|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

Orioles reliever Jamie Walker threw his first bullpen session yesterday and hopes to be activated from the disabled list after going on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

A very short one.

Walker anticipated joining one of the affiliates tomorrow - Double-A Bowie is home - and returning to the Orioles early next week. He did some long-tossing Saturday and Monday and stopped by Single-A Frederick on Wednesday.

"I'll see how it feels," he said. "I'll probably go somewhere Saturday and face some hitters and be activated Sunday or Monday. That's my goal, but I haven't talked to them about it."

Left-handers are batting .382 against Walker, who went on the disabled list retroactive to June 26 with inflammation in his left elbow. He received a cortisone injection and can fully extend his left arm. The previous discomfort and restrictions are apparently gone.

"Obviously, the shot helped out," he said. "I just need to face some hitters. I don't want to go out there naked, and there's a situation where they have to make a move or something happens to my arm and then you have to make double moves. I want to make sure. I'll go out and throw. I don't care if it hurts. If it blows, it blows. That's fine if that happens, but right now it feels ... good. My arm strength's still there. It feels good. But it's a little different when the lights come on and you have to face a hitter.

"I'm actually in pretty good shape right now because I did extra work around the house. My wife had me doing all kinds of stuff. My body feels good. But I don't want to go through that again. That was too long of a break, but they obviously knew what they were doing. They gave me some time, and I think it got [the inflammation] out."

In other injury news, Rule 5 pick Randor Bierd (right shoulder impingement) pitched one scoreless inning, striking out two and walking one, for Double-A Bowie in Game 2 of a doubleheader against visiting Reading. The Orioles could activate him or wait a few more days.

Shortstop Alex Cintron (strained hamstring) ran yesterday and is considered five or six days away from playing, perhaps with an affiliate.

"He said he's probably 95 percent," manager Dave Trembley said. "If he feels OK [today], we may start some baseball activities with him. We may or may not have to send him out on a rehab [assignment]. I'll have to wait until I see how he does taking ground balls and BP."

Sherrill available

Though he pitched 2 1/3 innings in Tuesday night's All-Star Game, reliever George Sherrill was available last night and showing no ill effects from the heavy workload.

"Getting up three times was a little taxing," said Sherrill, who threw 25 pitches in the game. "My arm was a little sore [the next day], but nothing too bad. Mostly normal stuff."

American League manager Terry Francona phoned Orioles president Andy MacPhail to explain the reasoning behind Sherrill's lengthy outing. The club wasn't pleased that its closer was the first AL pitcher to work more than two innings since 1987.

The only other available arm belonged to Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir, who threw 104 pitches Sunday. Kazmir entered in the 15th inning.

"It's probably something that, if you take the high road, Major League Baseball will learn from it and probably have to make an adjustment accordingly because of it. They got caught short," Trembley said.

Said Sherrill: "I definitely wanted to keep [Kazmir] out of there, but when you go 15 innings, it's kind of hard."

Triple-A call-ups only

No matter how much the young starters continue to struggle, the Orioles aren't likely to dip below Triple-A to call up another pitcher.

Trembley said he prefers Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen remain at Bowie and Jake Arrieta at Frederick so they can get "as much experience as they can under their belts" and put up numbers to give them "a sense of confidence." But it's not as if the Orioles have a lot of choices at Norfolk.

"I get the reports and the box scores on what other guys in the organization are doing," Trembley said, "and they're not exactly setting the world on fire."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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