An emotional demotion for O's

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Optioning Albers a tough decision for club

April 13, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

The decision to option Matt Albers to Triple-A Norfolk to open a roster spot for Adam Eaton was not only a difficult one for the Orioles to make, but it was also a hard one to deliver.

Orioles president Andy MacPhail, manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz met with Albers late Saturday night, and Kranitz said the pitcher didn't take the news very well.

"But that's OK," Kranitz said. "He knows he's a big league pitcher, and we know he's a big league pitcher. It was very difficult, but it is a business thing. It's too bad because, to me, he's going to be a big part of this. That's just the nature of the beast, but the one thing he has to do is go down and work hard. He's a major league pitcher, there's no doubt about it in my mind. He's throwing the ball great. It's just one of those things."

Albers, who has shown no ill effects of the tear in his shoulder that ended his impressive 2008 campaign in late June, pitched three times for the Orioles, allowing a run on four hits over 2 2/3 innings. However, he still had a minor league option remaining, which is primarily why he was sent down while other candidates, such as pitchers Brian Bass and Dennis Sarfate and shortstop Robert Andino, who are out of options, weren't.

"I would say the business side, the option, probably weighed heavily in the decision," Trembley said. "Andy and I both agreed at the start of the season, we didn't want to take a chance losing somebody to another club this early in the year. We felt like if we took somebody off, somebody was going to get claimed.

"It was a tough, tough decision. We spent some time with Matt. He just needs to go down and pitch, stay positive. It's April 11. He'll be back."

Running wild

The Tampa Bay Rays went 3-for-3 on stolen-base attempts Sunday, leaving the opposition 8-for-8 this season against the Orioles. Trembley put more blame on his pitchers' failure to hold runners than on catchers Gregg Zaun and Chad Moeller.

"I don't think you steal off the catcher," Trembley said. "I think some of the circumstances were mostly indifference. The scores were so out of whack that we're probably not paying enough attention to the runners - either that or they know what's coming. It seemed like every time they ran, it was on a breaking pitch or an off-speed pitch."

Andino gets first start

In his first Grapefruit League at-bat for the Orioles after being acquired from the Florida Marlins for Hayden Penn, Andino singled sharply to left field. He did the same Sunday in his first regular-season start with the club. Andino's third-inning, two-out single was the Orioles' first hit off Rays starter James Shields. It was also Andino's only hit, as he went 1-for-4 in his first extended appearance of the season.

"It's always good to get that first start, especially with a new club," said Andino, who started with Cesar Izturis getting the day off. "It's not been that tough, but it's a new experience for me. There is a real good group of guys in here. There are a lot more vets in here than there were in Florida, so I'm learning a lot."

Around the horn

Felix Pie drove in his first run for the Orioles, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning Sunday. ... In giving up four home runs, Bass became the fourth reliever in Orioles history to allow that many in an outing. ... The Orioles' total announced attendance during the six-day homestand was 153,502, an average of 25,584.

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