Winging it no more

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Reliever Ray chooses location over velocity

Trembley spreads starts in left, at DH

April 09, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

It took reliever Chris Ray all of two innings to get over the disappointment of his 2009 debut. As he sat in the dugout Monday after allowing a two-run homer to the New York Yankees' Hideki Matsui and issuing a walk to Jorge Posada, Ray watched Dennis Sarfate induce a clutch double play and Cesar Izturis extend the Orioles' lead with a two-run homer.

"After that, I had already forgotten what happened," Ray said.

It was the first appearance since July 2007 for the former closer, who missed all last season after having ligament-reconstruction surgery on his right elbow. Ray got just one out, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. Ray said he watched tape of his outing and concluded he didn't pitch as poorly as the results indicated. He said Johnny Damon hit a good pitch for his single and he just missed his location on Matsui's homer.

Ray, who saved 33 games for the Orioles in 2006, didn't break 94 mph on the stadium radar gun. That's below what Ray used to throw before his elbow surgery, but the 27-year-old said that was by design.

"I'm not going out there and putting 100 percent effort into every pitch," Ray said. "As long as I'm putting the ball where I want to, the velocity isn't going to matter as much. It's not a conscious effort. I'm just not going out there grunting on every pitch. I used to just try to wing it. I [stopped doing] it this spring training and it was working, so I'm sticking with it."

Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz said he's fine with Ray's approach.

"He knows his body better than I do," Kranitz said. "It's a process. I don't expect him to come out here throwing the ball 96, 97 miles an hour either. I think that's a good thing for him so he doesn't start overthrowing and missing location."

Preaching patience

Before the season began, Orioles manager Dave Trembley asked several of his players to be patient early in the season when it comes to playing time. The Orioles have a logjam in left field and at the designated hitter spot with Felix Pie, Luke Scott, Ryan Freel and Ty Wigginton needing at-bats.

Scott started in left field and Wigginton at DH on Opening Day, while Scott was the DH and Pie got his first start in left field on Wednesday.

"It will be a challenge, but you play a full season," Trembley said. "I'm confident that we'll find a way to get everyone their at-bats and they'll make contributions to the club."

Mora still sore

Trembley offered Melvin Mora Thursday off to rest his tight left hamstring, but the third baseman declined. Mora first experienced tightness while playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic last month. He said it doesn't bother him, although he was favoring his leg running the bases Monday.

Around the horn

Opening Day starter Jeremy Guthrie will stay on regular turn and pitch Saturday against Tampa Bay, delaying Adam Eaton's Orioles debut until Sunday. ... Trembley said he had 68 congratulatory e-mails after his team's Opening Day victory. ... The Orioles will begin their Alumni Autograph Series before Thursday's game with Al Bumbry, Billy Hunter and Tippy Martinez signing autographs from noon to 1 p.m. at the MASN booth on Eutaw Street.

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