NEW YORK —
Dave Trembley said last weekend in Toronto that converted starter David Hernandez would be used in long-relief situations for the time being, but it took only one outing for the Orioles manager to change his mind.
Trembley said after Tuesday's series-opening 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees that Hernandez, who pitched 11/3 scoreless innings in the game, would most likely be used late in games, particularly in the seventh and eighth innings.
"I think he's looked a lot more comfortable than I expected he would look coming out of the bullpen this early," Trembley said when asked what changed his mind about Hernandez's role. "I thought his breaking pitch [Tuesday] night was probably the best that we have seen as far as throwing it for a strike. The way for him to go is obviously pitching out of the stretch -- not good out of the windup. And I like the fact that what I've seen in the limited times out of the bullpen, his velocity has been 94, 95 [mph]. You have a power arm like that, you have to take that guy in short stints and move him more toward the end of the game."
Hernandez came in with the score tied at 1 and men on second and third with two outs in the seventh inning Tuesday. He should have retired Alex Rodriguez on one pitch, but third baseman Miguel Tejada made a throwing error that cost the Orioles two runs.
Hernandez retired the next batter, Robinson Cano, on a fly ball and then struck out two of the three hitters he faced in a perfect eighth inning. In two appearances since moving to the bullpen, the 25-year-old right-hander has allowed two hits, walked none and struck out five in 31/3 scoreless innings.
Tuesday "night was probably the first time that I've been in a tight situation like that, and I enjoyed it," Hernandez said. "I'd like to get the ball more often in those types of situations, but whenever I'm needed, I'll be ready. My arm is definitely in a shape where I definitely can go multiple innings."
Hernandez approached pitching coach Rick Kranitz a couple of days ago and told him that he would like to pitch later in games. The pitcher said Wednesday that he would relish a role similar to the one that Joba Chamberlain has had with the Yankees, in which he would enter the game in the sixth or seventh inning and get anywhere from six to nine outs.
"I would love to do something like that, but it's not up to me," said Hernandez, who has 30 career appearances, 27 of them as a starter.
Trembley revealed injured second baseman Brian Roberts' game schedule for the remainder of his time at extended spring training. Roberts, who hasn't played since April 9 because of a herniated disk in his back, will play second base and get four at-bats Friday, serve as the designated hitter and get four-at bats Saturday, take Sunday off, play second base for seven innings Monday, serve as the DH and get four at-bats Tuesday, take Wednesday off and play the full game at second base next Thursday.
Roberts then could go on a rehabilitation assignment at one of the Orioles' minor league affiliates June 11 or 12.
Reliever Michael Gonzalez (left shoulder strain) threw 25 to 30 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday and will throw a 40-pitch session Saturday, Trembley said. The Orioles manager said Gonzalez wants to be activated in time to pitch on the West Coast trip that starts June 14, but Trembley isn't sure he'll be ready by then.
Reliever Alfredo Simon (strained left hamstring) is throwing, Trembley said. Reliever Jim Johnson (right elbow inflammation) will start a throwing program Monday.
Atkins sits and waits
The Orioles were hoping Garrett Atkins' home run against the Oakland Athletics on May 26, his first of the year, would be the hit he needed to push him out of his season-long slump. But Atkins is hitless in his past eight at-bats and finding it harder and harder to get at-bats.
Atkins was not in the starting lineup Wednesday for the fourth time in the Orioles' past five games.
"I don't know if it gets harder or not," Atkins said.
"You just have to keep coming in every day and try and get better, whether it's in the cage or out on the field. Whenever they call on you, you want to be ready to perform or help the team. It's not the situation they wanted for me or I wanted for myself. but it's the way it is right now and you just kind of roll with it."
Around the horn
Single-A Delmarva's Nate Moreau and Single-A Frederick's Joe Mahoney were named organizational Pitcher and Player of the Month for May. In his Triple-A Norfolk debut Tuesday, reliever Cla Meredith allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in one inning of work. Cano's first-inning single extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
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