NEW YORK - Chris Waters started the season at Double-A Bowie, his ninth straight year in the minor leagues. During that span, he had pitched one career game at the Triple-A level. He didn't even get an invitation by the Orioles to major league spring training.
More than five months ago, the left-hander, 28, was about the unlikeliest candidate to be on the mound the night of the final regular-season game at Yankee Stadium. But that's exactly where Waters will find himself tonight, though he didn't realize it until last week when he was informed by a reporter.
"I don't really pay attention to that type of stuff," Waters said on the eve of his start. "Half the time, I don't even know what day of the week it is."
That's not to say Waters doesn't appreciate the chance he'll get, which manager Dave Trembley called "the opportunity of a lifetime."
"That's something obviously special to do that, but I can't really think about it until after the day is over," Waters said. "You think about that kind of stuff, you get nervous."
Waters threw eight shutout innings over the league-best Los Angeles Angels in his major league debut and is coming off a shutout of the Toronto Blue Jays in his most recent start. He said he expects tonight to be just another fond memory from a surprising - and memorable - rookie season.
"I have enough innings in Double-A to have a career, so to get out of there and to be here, that's a dream come true," Waters said. "The first [start], that's probably at the top. But to get to pitch in the last game at Yankee Stadium, that will be right there with it."
Making it even more special is that Waters has long admired fellow left-hander Andy Pettitte, his counterpart tonight.
Asked whether he's concerned about how his inexperienced pitcher will react, Trembley said: "I'm sure there are a lot of people who would like to be getting the chance that he's getting. To his advantage, he's coming off a great game that he pitched in Toronto. I don't know if there's any carryover or not, but it should give him some confidence going into the game. It's probably going to be an environment that will be tough to duplicate."
Guthrie still uncertain
Back on the mound for the first time since giving up seven earned runs to the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 29, Jeremy Guthrie felt good. There was no discomfort in his right shoulder. He threw all his pitches and was able to locate them down in the zone. But he acknowledged after his bullpen session yesterday that it is probably still unlikely he'll come off the disabled list to start in one of the games in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Rays.
"They're definitely leaning toward not starting me Tuesday," Guthrie said. "I guess that would be the indication."
Guthrie threw 40 pitches in the bullpen session and said he feels good enough to start Tuesday.
Jones not at full speed
Adam Jones acknowledged that he still doesn't have his explosiveness back after fracturing a bone in his left foot, an injury that cost the center fielder about a month on the disabled list. His failure to come up with Bobby Abreu's liner in left-center in the first inning yesterday was proof of that.
However, Jones insists his foot is fine and that it's just a matter of working himself into baseball shape.
"I wanted to play," said Jones, who went 1-for-4 yesterday and made an outstanding diving catch on Chad Moeller's blooper in the third inning. "I know [hitting coach Terry Crowley] told me that he really didn't want me to come back because I'm going to be catching up with the big leagues. But I really wanted to play."
Jones said he will take a couple of weeks off after the season and then start working out at Athletes' Performance Institute in Arizona, the same place where teammate Brian Roberts works out. It will be the first offseason working out there for Jones.
"I'm going to come in next year in better shape than I was in this year," Jones said. "Every offseason since I've been in pro ball has been that much more important. I'll take that as a challenge and try to show people that I can go out and get the job done."
Doubles for Brian Roberts, who set a career high with his first-inning double yesterday