Shoulder inflammation puts closer Sherrill on DL

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

August 20, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,SUN REPORTER

George Sherrill, the Orioles' All-Star closer who was threatening to break the club's saves record, was placed on the disabled list yesterday afternoon with left shoulder inflammation.

Sherrill, who has 31 saves in his first season as a closer, was not available for Monday night's loss to the Boston Red Sox after complaining that he couldn't get loose before the game.

Manager Dave Trembley wouldn't speculate about the severity of the injury or who would take Sherrill's spot as closer. The obvious option is setup man Jim Johnson, who would have closed Monday night if the Orioles had had the lead.

"It would be a void that would take something to fill it," Trembley said. "When you look at the amount of saves we've had and the amount of games we've won, I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what a central figure [Sherrill] has been on our ballclub."

The move was retroactive to Saturday, when Sherrill pitched a scoreless inning against the Detroit Tigers. The Orioles will bring up a player to take his spot today.

Obtained from the Seattle Mariners in February's Erik Bedard deal, Sherrill was the club's lone All-Star and excelled in his first midsummer classic, pitching 2 1/3 shutout innings in the 15-inning American League victory.

It was the longest Sherrill had pitched since his fourth big league game, in 2004. At the time, Trembley wasn't pleased his closer had to pitch so much, but yesterday he wouldn't specifically blame that outing for Sherrill's injury.

"I don't know, that would be pure speculation," Trembley said. "I think that would be easy to fall back on and point fingers at, and I'd prefer to take the high road and stay away from that."

Before the break, Sherrill had 28 saves and a 4.08 ERA, and opponents batted .221 against him in 37 games. In his 10 appearances since, Sherrill had three saves, a 5.91 ERA and a .295 opponents' batting average.

The drop in effectiveness also could be a case of fatigue triggered by a change in roles. This is Sherrill's fifth big league season, but he has already pitched a career high in innings (50 1/3 ). For much of his career, he has was a left-handed specialist, often facing just one batter.

"To be honest with you, I did not particularly see this coming, but I'm not totally shot out of the water by it," Trembley said. "I understand the background and how many innings he's pitched."

Not all news on the Orioles closer front was sobering.

Trembley announced that 2007 closer Chris Ray, who had elbow-ligament-reconstruction surgery last August, will continue his rehabilitation program with one-inning stints at Single-A Frederick today and Aberdeen on Friday.

"After that, we'll determine where he's at," he said, refusing to predict whether Ray would pitch for the Orioles this year.

" ... This is a tremendous credit to Chris Ray, and what he's done and how hard he's worked to get himself where he's at."

Jones update

Center fielder Adam Jones (broken left foot) has no timetable for return, but he has been cleared by doctors to "walk around basically. I don't have to wear the boot. Soon, I don't know when, I'll be able to run around."

Trembley said the Orioles are going to be careful with Jones, 23, who hasn't played since fouling a ball off his foot Aug. 2.

"As excited as we all are of the possibility of him coming back here, he's not going to do one thing before Dr. [John] Wilckens and the medical staff allow him to do it."

Other injury news

Trembley said pitcher Matt Albers (right shoulder) will throw 30 pitches from a mound tomorrow and Saturday in Sarasota, Fla. For the first time since his injury, he will throw breaking balls as well as fastballs and changeups. If all goes well, he'll throw live batting practice Tuesday. ... Pitcher Greg Aquino (left hamstring) is expected to throw an inning at Frederick today and another at Aberdeen on Friday.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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