Berken To Start Monday

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Hill Likely To Follow

Notebook

Despite Struggles, Both Will Remain In Rotation, For Now

July 25, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

BOSTON -- It appears that Jason Berken and Rich Hill will get another chance to save their rotation spots after all.

After a half-hour meeting with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and pitching coach Rick Kranitz before Friday's series opener against the Boston Red Sox, Orioles manager Dave Trembley said that Berken will start Monday against the Kansas City Royals and Hill will likely follow him Tuesday or Wednesday.

"I think they should get another shot, and we'll what happens from there," MacPhail said.

Berken is 1-8 with a 6.55 ERA and has lost eight straight decisions. Hill has a 7.64 ERA and has failed to get through five innings in six of his 12 starts. Trembley hinted at rotation changes when both were knocked around by the New York Yankees on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was expected that the Orioles' top pitching prospect, Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chris Tillman (8-6, 2.70 ERA), was in line to make his major league debut.

"It would appear that we may go one more time through [the rotation] as it is," Trembley said. "Everybody knows Tillman pitched [Thursday] night. We're going to get some more feedback from our minor league people on how he pitched and see where he's at."

Both Trembley and MacPhail said Tillman's struggles Thursday night - he surrendered four earned runs on six hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings - didn't affect their decision.

"I don't think [it's fair that] a kid that has pitched well virtually for the entire time that we got him, to penalize him for a bad outing," MacPhail said. "To put that much emphasis on one outing, I don't think would be fair to anybody. ... When you think about it, most if not all of Chris' rotation mates at [Double-A] Bowie last year are here with [David] Hernandez and Berken and [Brad] Bergesen, so [his promotion is] not out of the realm of possibility."

It still appears that the 21-year-old's big league debut is imminent. It just might not be Tuesday, which had been expected.

"Tillman is going to get here," Trembley said. "It's just a matter of when. I can't tell you right now the exact date."

Signing delays irk Jordan

A little more than three weeks before the deadline to sign 2009 draft picks before losing their rights, Orioles director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan acknowledged that he is disappointed in the team's failure to sign more of its selections. The Orioles have signed 20 of their 50 picks, including five of their top 10.

"It's very disappointing that we haven't been able to get more of them out early and let them play this summer," Jordan said. "I don't think it's because of a lack of effort on our side. These players are very controlled by the people advising them. Guys are just going to have to understand that they're not going to get the money that they think they're going to.

"Sometimes you just have to hang in there with them and let this play out. We still have a lot of players we're going to sign. We've been trying to get things done, but we're getting to the point where we're going to have to sign the guys that want to go out and play."

Jordan acknowledged that there is a chance the team won't be able to sign several of its top 10 picks and would instead put the money toward late-round selections the organization wasn't necessarily planning to sign originally.

The list of unsigned picks includes second-round choice Mychal Givens, a high school shortstop out of Tampa, Fla. Jordan said there has been very little dialogue between the team and Givens' agent, former major league outfielder Ken Felder. If the Orioles were unable to sign Givens, they would get a compensation pick in next year's draft.

"I hope if it doesn't come to that, but if it does, it does," Jordan said. "We're going to make a good effort, and if he doesn't sign, I'll be very disappointed. But I'll get over it."

Seeing more of Sano

Director of international scouting John Stockstill was in the Dominican Republic on Friday to watch coveted shortstop prospect Miguel Angel Sano and meet with the 16-year-old and his family.

The Orioles remain interested in the international free agent but are waiting for Major League Baseball to conclude its investigation into the age and identity of Sano, who is being wooed by several other teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, Yankees and Minnesota Twins.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported on its Web site Friday that the investigation is complete and Sano has been cleared on his identity but not his age. According to the report, it still could take a "month or two" to determine whether Sano will be able to secure a visa to play in the United States.

"I'm not aware of the fact that he's been cleared," MacPhail said Friday. "John was just down there today, really. He's connected with the family and the kid, and we've worked him out. We'll see."

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