NEW YORK - Orioles manager Dave Trembley continued his juggling of his struggling starting rotation yesterday, demoting Brian Burres to the bullpen and inserting reliever Dennis Sarfate in his place.
Sarfate, 27, has made 45 appearances this season, all in relief. The right-hander was primarily a starter coming up through the minor leagues until last season, when he made all but one of his 45 appearances for Nashville, the Milwaukee Brewers' Triple-A affiliate, out of the bullpen.
When he takes the mound tomorrow at Yankee Stadium, not far from where he grew up in Brooklyn, Sarfate will be making his first major league start.
"We'd like to see what he can do," said Trembley, who demoted starter Radhames Liz to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday. "He's got a good arm. He's started in Triple-A before. ... You've followed the club, you've seen the lack of quality starts that we had. We had to try something different."
Burres (7-7, 5.37 ERA), who is tied with Garrett Olson for the staff lead in wins, has gone fewer than six innings in eight of his previous 11 starts. In his latest outing Friday against the Los Angeles Angels, Burres allowed five earned runs and lasted just 1 2/3 innings.
Sarfate relieved him and threw a season-high 3 1/3 scoreless innings on 44 pitches. Trembley said it is unrealistic to expect Sarfate to throw more than 100 pitches, but the team will take it "inning by inning."
"A lot of emotion will be going [for my] first start [at] Yankee Stadium, but I'm comfortable with it," Sarfate said. "I've done it my whole career except for last year, so really for me it's nothing new. It's not like trying to reinvent the wheel. It's going to be fine, and I'm just going to take it and go with it."
Sarfate, who is 4-1 with a 3.78 ERA, has walked 39 batters in 50 innings. He struggled repeating his delivery, and Trembley said it's possible Sarfate will throw strictly from the stretch tomorrow.
The Orioles manager would not commit to how long Sarfate will be in the rotation. With days off the next two Thursdays, Trembley will go with a four-man rotation and won't need a No. 5 starter until Aug. 5.
Since being acquired from the Colorado Rockies on July 19, veteran Juan Castro has started seven of 10 games for the Orioles at shortstop, impressing his teammates with his defensive ability
"Castro is tremendous over there," first baseman Kevin Millar said. "He's special."
It appears that the Orioles have settled on him as their starting shortstop, at least for now.
"I know what [Brandon] Fahey can do," Trembley said. "Fahey's been very good here, giving us quite honestly a lot more offensively than anybody anticipated. I'm not so sure it's a day-by-day thing. I think that will become clearer the more we play."
With Thursday's trade deadline looming, the Orioles remain in contact with several clubs, but at this point no deals appear imminent, according to team sources.