MINNEAPOLIS - -Seeking to protect some of the organization's most prized commodities, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said he'll soon meet with manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz to devise a plan to limit the innings of some of the team's young starting pitchers. That could include shutting down one or two of the Orioles' prized rookies.
"We have developed an innings range that we don't want these guys to go beyond, so we're going to have to craft the best way to deal with it," MacPhail said. "I've talked to Dave about it in general, but we have to kind of work out a schedule that makes the most sense. We just don't want to overload them."
The four rookies in the rotation - Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, David Hernandez and Jason Berken - will be nearing uncharted territory in innings pitched. Tillman, 21, has thrown 132 innings between the major and minor leagues this year. His career professional high is 135 2/3 , last year at Double-A Bowie.
Hernandez, 24, whose career pro high is 145 innings, has logged 129 2/3 during his stint with the Orioles and two of their affiliates. Matusz, 22, entered Tuesday night's start having thrown 131 2/3 innings in his first pro season.
Berken, 25, who has turned in 119 2/3 combined innings between the majors and minors this year, still has a ways to go to reach his career pro high in innings. He threw 151 for Single-A Frederick in 2007.
MacPhail said the club will discuss several options to protect its young arms. The club had originally planned to go to a six-man rotation when rosters expand in September, but that was partly contingent on a healthy Brad Bergesen, who isn't that close to a return.
"We can limit the innings of our starters, we could close them down early, we could go to a six-man rotation," MacPhail said. "We're pretty lucky in that we have three off days in September in an eight-day period after going through this 40 games in 41 days. Our bullpens will expand, so you can turn the game over to the bullpens earlier. There are different ways of doing it. The best thing is to sit down with Dave and Kranny and give our innings limit and try to determine what they think after consulting with the player."
Jones out again
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones missed a second consecutive game with back soreness, and Trembley said he's likely to skip today's series finale, as well.
"I think the muscle spasms in his back have subsided, but he's got some definite back soreness," Trembley said.
Jones' absence, along with Trembley's desire to give Nolan Reimold and his sore left Achilles tendon a day off the turf, scrapped the manager's plan to play Luke Scott at first base Tuesday. Instead, Scott started in left field next to Felix Pie in center and Michael Aubrey got a second straight start at first base, with Reimold handling the designated hitter duties.
Welcome, old friend
Like many of the Orioles' younger players, Matusz was sad to see Aubrey Huff go. Huff constantly held court with the Orioles' newcomers, providing counsel and laughter. But Matusz was also plenty intrigued by what the Orioles got for Huff in their trade with the Detroit Tigers earlier this month.
Matusz grew up with Single-A pitcher Brett Jacobson in Cave Creek, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix. They went to the same church and were both teammates and opponents while playing club baseball.
"I thought it was the coolest thing," Matusz said. "Unfortunately I don't have his number anymore. I've lost his number. I'd like to get ahold of him and talk to him a little bit.
"He is a great guy to have, a good pickup for us. We are both from this small little area in North Phoenix, so for us to be in the same organization is pretty cool."
Eight go to AFL
The Orioles' minor league system will be well represented in the Arizona Fall League, as seven of their players have been named to the roster of the Phoenix Desert Dogs, and another (Single-A Frederick infielder Brandon Waring) has been selected to the team's taxi squad.
The players selected are: first baseman Brandon Snyder and right-handed reliever Josh Perrault of Triple-A Norfolk; third baseman Josh Bell and right-handed pitchers Brandon Erbe (McDonogh), Ryohei Tanaka and Eddie Gamboa of Bowie; and Frederick center fielder Matt Angle.