Albers could lose roster spot soon

With two moves coming, struggling reliever may be headed out

April 28, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

With two potential roster moves pending within the next week, reliever Matt Albers' future with the Orioles could be in jeopardy, something the right-hander said he is not thinking about.

"I have got to go out there and pitch and take care of my business," said Albers, who is 0-3 with a 9.35 ERA in 10 games. "That part of the game is going to happen. There's nothing really I can do except just pitch and try to do my best."

The Orioles will have to make a roster move Saturday, when they recall Brad Bergesen from Triple-A Norfolk to start against the Boston Red Sox. They also will need to remove another player from the big league roster when reliever Koji Uehara (strained left hamstring) is taken off the disabled list. Uehara pitches a one-inning rehab assignment Thursday for Double-A Bowie, and then the club then will determine what his next step will be.

It's unlikely that Albers, who is out of options and would have to pass through waivers before the club can send him to the minors, could survive two cuts given the club's current roster construction.

It's possible the Orioles could demote another reliever with an option remaining, such as Cla Meredith (0-0, 5.40 ERA), or send out a position player and hand Orioles manager Dave Trembley an eight-man bullpen and a three-man bench. That has not been determined, Trembley said.

"I would not speculate right now because it might change," Trembley said. "If I were to say it's two pitchers for two pitchers and then something happens between now and then and you change your mind, that's not the proper course to take. … I know what the possibilities are. We'll have to wait until we get there to see how it unfolds."

Albers, 27, was a part of the deal that sent Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros in December 2007. He pitched well for the Orioles that first season, compiling a 3-3 record and 3.49 ERA in 28 games, including three starts.

But he couldn't maintain any consistency last year, going 3-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 56 games. He pitched well enough in the spring to land a bullpen spot this year, but he has allowed seven walks, 10 hits and nine earned runs in his first 82/3 innings in 2010. His past two outings heading into Wednesday were losses.

"It's been a couple bad pitches that have hurt me in certain situations," Albers said. "I need to get ahead of hitters and throw more strikes. Get them to take swings. I've gotten myself into trouble getting behind and walking a few guys."

When Albers' low-90s sinker is working, he can be a ground-ball machine. But scouts consider his breaking ball "highly readable" out of his hand, and his inability to consistently throw strikes with all his pitches might discourage teams from claiming him.

One scout said he doubts any team will claim Albers because he is 27 and hasn't appreciably improved in the past three years. If Albers isn't claimed, the Orioles could outright him to Triple-A Norfolk without his permission.

More medical concerns for Roberts

Second baseman Brian Roberts, who is on the DL with a herniated disk in his back, was away from the team during pre-game drills Wednesday because of another health situation.

Roberts has been dealing with lingering gastrointestinal discomfort, which he believes is from the medication he has been taking for his back injury. He saw a doctor Wednesday and is scheduled for an endoscopy on Thursday to determine whether there is more to the stomach pain, but he said he is not concerned.

"I think it's because of all the medication I am on, so they're checking my stomach," Roberts said after the Orioles' 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night.

The two-time All-Star has not played since the home opener April 9, when he strained an abdominal muscle on a slide into second base. The slide jarred his herniated disk, and he later was forced to have a second epidural shot in a month in his back.

Jones continues to bat leadoff

Despite a .211 average and a .228 on-base percentage in his first 20 games, center fielder Adam Jones again batted leadoff Wednesday. It was the eighth time he has batted first this season, more than any other Oriole.

With Roberts and Felix Pie on the DL, Trembley said his choices are limited so he is going to stick with Jones for the most part.

"I think he is our best option right now," Trembley said. "It's very difficult to replace Roberts. You don't replace Roberts. I think you try and fit somebody in there. I've tried some other people, but I'm going to stick with Jones."

Around the horn

Starter Kevin Millwood, who wanted to be a police officer when he was a kid, rode along for 21/2 hours Wednesday with Baltimore City Police in an unmarked squad car and said he thought it was "a lot of fun." … Actor/comedian Tracy Morgan, who is performing at the Lyric Opera House on Thursday, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Former Oriole Corey Patterson, who was with the Seattle Mariners during spring training, officially joined Norfolk on Wednesday. To make room for him on the roster, Jonathan Tucker was placed on the DL, retroactive to Sunday, with right elbow inflammation.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

http://twitter.com/danconnollysun

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