A Big Relief For Salazar

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

Still On Roster, Utility Player Responds With Home Run

July 13, 2009|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,dan.connolly@baltsun.com

While the Orioles were deciding Friday afternoon about whom to cut to make room for the activation of shortstop Cesar Izturis, infielder Oscar Salazar was nervous.

Very nervous.

"He was in here real early and he walked by my office about four times because I think he thought it was going to be him," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

When Salazar learned that pitcher David Hernandez would be sent to the minors - at least temporarily - he relaxed, and then brought his 7-year-old son, Ellian, in to meet Trembley.

"It was hard," Salazar said. "It's like I guess you think about why it's going to happen, what's going to happen."

The Orioles kept Salazar and he paid them back with a two-hit game in Sunday's 4-2 win against the Toronto Blue Jays. He had the game's biggest swing, a solo homer off Blue Jays starter Marc Rzepczynski, Salazar's second homer this season.

He is batting .419 (13 hits in 31 at-bats) and is 4-for-11 as a pinch hitter.

"It seems that when he's come here and he gets opportunities, he hits," Trembley said. "He's been an incredible guy to be able to sit on the bench for three or four hours and come up and hit, or not play for four or five days and then hit. To me, that's a pretty special quality."

Salazar, 31, has bounced around in several organizations and also played in Italy and Mexico. So he's not getting comfortable in Baltimore. Because he is out of options, he has been the subject of trade rumors. And the Orioles will have to make another roster move July 20 when Hernandez is recalled to make his next start.

"I think they gave me another opportunity to be here, and we'll see what happens the next couple days," he said. "I don't know."

Jones has knees drained

Center fielder Adam Jones has had fluid drained from his knees twice in the past week, including Sunday.

But Jones, the Orioles' lone representative in Tuesday's All-Star Game, said he can - and will - play through any discomfort.

"I'm fine. It doesn't bother me. It's just sports," Jones said. "You have to fight through it."

He first injured his left knee when he crashed into the outfield wall June 30. But he continues to play.

"Jones is a man," Trembley said. "And he won't draw attention to himself for being banged up and he won't use that as an excuse, but he needs a couple days to get it back."

Berken to start Friday

Jason Berken will pitch Friday in Chicago, the Orioles' first game after the All-Star break. He'll likely be followed Saturday by Jeremy Guthrie, who is battling a viral infection but should be ready to pitch, Trembley said. Brad Bergesen will pitch the series-ender Sunday, and Hernandez likely will be recalled to start Monday's opener at Yankee Stadium. Rich Hill's next start has not been scheduled, but Trembley said he remains in the rotation.

Around the horn

Orioles prospects Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz each pitched one inning for Team USA in the Futures Game; Tillman gave up two runs and Matusz one. ... Reliever Chris Ray (biceps tendinitis) left Sunday for the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., where he'll throw for about two weeks before likely going out on a rehabilitation assignment. Dennis Sarfate (circulatory condition) threw a scoreless inning and struck out two in his first rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie on Saturday. ... The Orioles signed seventh-round pick Aaron Wirsch, a left-handed pitcher out of El Toro High in Southern California.

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