Cabrera's struggles remain a mystery

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August 26, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Orioles right-hander Daniel Cabrera was examined by a team doctor yesterday to see whether his drop in velocity and overall ineffectiveness are related to any physical issues.

Cabrera, who did not want to talk to reporters about his health, met with team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens yesterday afternoon.

"Dr. Wilckens doesn't seem to think there is a problem," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said after the evening's first game. "I believe he'll have an MRI [on his right elbow] just as a precautionary measure."

Cabrera was shelled by the New York Yankees on Sunday, allowing seven earned runs in a season-low 3 2/3 innings. He has an 8.02 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break. Equally concerning, his fastball velocity, which used to be in the mid-90s, was in the 80s at times Sunday.

"I think there are some delivery differences that could attribute to it as well," club president Andy MacPhail said. "We'll make sure he sees the appropriate doctors, and we'll exhaust every possibility we can think of to see what might be the issue - whether it is physical, whether it is mechanical - and then try to solve it. It's a process of elimination, and we'll subtract them one at a time."

Asked whether Cabrera could miss a start, especially with his six-game suspension pending, MacPhail said, "I think that is going to be determined based on what we learn over the next few days."

Trembley said Cabrera is scheduled to pitch Saturday, and unless he hears otherwise from the medical staff, he has to assume Cabrera is not hurt. He said he'll talk to Cabrera, but it would be a low-key discussion.

"I'm not trying to diminish if there's something wrong with his arm, but I think the guy is disappointed," Trembley said. "He's upset with himself."

Trembley said he has told his players they need to be honest if they are hurting.

"I think the course of action that guys ought to take all the time is just be upfront. Just say it," Trembley said. "If you're hurt and you can't pitch or you can't play, just let me know, goodness' sakes."

Sarfate comfortable in bullpen

Reliever Dennis Sarfate's trip back to the bullpen has gone about as well as it could have - and now he's thinking it's where he belongs.

"I am a guy that needs to have a routine where I know I have a chance to go in a game every time. I can't go out there and start and then have days off and go out there again," said Sarfate, who was primarily a starter in the minors. "I need to have some work every day."

Sarfate has pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief since being sent to the bullpen. In four starts, his last coming Aug. 16, Sarfate allowed 18 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings (10.34 ERA).

"I took my lickings in the starting rotation, but I just feel more comfortable in the 'pen," he said. "It's an adrenaline rush; it's your best stuff against their best stuff."

Trembley said the experience of starting helped Sarfate, making him a more confident reliever.

"I think out of necessity we made him a starter, but he wanted to do so well I think he went beyond his limits," Trembley said. "He sure looks a lot more under control and confident."

Around the horn

The Orioles recalled left-hander Brian Burres from Triple-A Norfolk and named him today's starter. They optioned Kam Mickolio to Norfolk. ... Closer George Sherrill (shoulder) will play catch today for the first time since feeling shoulder discomfort Aug. 18. ... Center fielder Adam Jones (foot) hit live batting practice again yesterday. ... Reliever Chris Ray pitched a scoreless inning for Single-A Delmarva on Sunday. He is expected to pitch for Double-A Bowie today.

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Games in which the Orioles have allowed a first-inning run, including nine of the past 13

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