Walker looking to return next week

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

Reliever continues rehab at Frederick

July 26, 2008|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

Before the Orioles activate reliever Jamie Walker from the disabled list, they want to give him another chance to find his groove on his minor league rehabilitation assignment, instead of finding bats with everything he throws.

Walker is scheduled to pitch one inning today at Single-A Frederick and hopes to accompany the team on its road trip that begins Monday in New York. He allowed three runs and five hits in an inning at Double-A Bowie on Thursday afternoon.

"I felt good. They ambushed me, though," he said. "If you look at the line, it was [bad]. One inning pitched, I don't know ... 18 hits? I gave up some rocket ships. Nothing was down, but it felt good. The adrenaline kind of got going. They asked me to go [today] to Frederick and throw another day, and I understand. That's fine. I probably need to. But I'm still wanting to get back here and compete where I know I belong.

"I made a nice play on a bunt play. That was a positive. I didn't walk anybody. I threw seven pitches to the first guy, I think, and the next five or six hitters saw a total of maybe eight or nine pitches. I hit bats. I didn't get the ball down like I wanted to, but it was good to get out there."

The Orioles checked on Walker yesterday to make sure his arm was in better condition than his Double-A numbers.

"He felt good today, but he wasn't real happy with the way he pitched, and he needs to pitch [today] and see how he does," manager Dave Trembley said. "I don't think you put too much salt into the results. I think you're more concerned with the fact that you get them out there and they feel good, they warm up OK, they feel good when they're done, and the next day they're ready to go."

Walker went on the disabled list retroactive to June 26 with inflammation in his left elbow. Perhaps one day at Frederick is all he needs to rejoin the Orioles' bullpen.

"I wanted to be activated Thursday, but I need to face some hitters," he said. "I hadn't pitched in a month. I get the ball down, I'll be ready."

F. Cabrera rebounds

Orioles reliever Fernando Cabrera has been charged with runs in only one of his nine appearances, leaving his ERA at 1.46 in 12 1/3 innings.

Cabrera's slate isn't usually clean - he has allowed nine hits and walked seven - but he has been much better in his second season with the Orioles.

Surgery in early December to clean out loose fragments in his right elbow have left him feeling stronger and more confident on the mound, a far cry from the pitcher who posted a 12.60 ERA in nine games for the Orioles last season.

"Being healthy mentally is a key," he said. "I've been working a lot on my mechanics and trying to be more aggressive. I work with the coaches here every single day to try to maintain a routine, and that can make a difference."

Cabrera tried to pitch through the pain in the elbow last season, and the results were horrendous. He went 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA with the Cleveland Indians, who released him after designating him for assignment Aug. 1, and the Orioles gave him a September call-up after signing him to a minor league contract.

"I was thinking maybe I put too much pressure on myself, coming here from the Indians," he said. "I knew I could get guys out, but I was struggling and it would be a battle, thinking too much about having to show them that I could pitch. I won't make any excuses. It was my decision to keep going that way. ... I can feel a difference now. I feel healthy mentally, and I feel stronger."

Lineup shake-up

With the Orioles having lost 12 of their past 16 games before last night, Trembley tweaked his lineup again.

He moved Adam Jones down to sixth in the order after batting him second in 10 games. Nick Markakis hit second against Los Angeles Angels left-hander Joe Saunders, and Melvin Mora batted third.

"I think when you lose games, you have to do something to try to mix it up," Trembley said. "You can't stay status quo. You've got to try to balance out your lineup a little bit better. You have to do something different than you've been doing. You get stagnant, people get comfortable."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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