O's pitcher Simon to resume role as closer

Hernandez will return to bullpen as setup man

June 19, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles' game of musical closers continued on Saturday when Samuel announced that Alfredo Simon will return to his role as Orioles' closer, while David Hernandez will go back to being a setup man.

With Simon on the disabled list, Hernandez converted his first two save chances, but blew his third on Friday night, giving up two runs in the ninth inning in the Orioles' 3-2 loss.

In the same game, Simon struck out both batters that he faced in his second outing since coming off the disabled list.

"When Simon came back, we said we didn't want to throw him right into the fire," Samuel said. "He's been gone for a quite a bit. We wanted to make sure he got some innings, got the feel back, and I think he's there right now. We aren't going to be switching back and forth. Like last night, Hernandez was the closer in the game. He had to get himself out of that. That's the same plan we have for Simon. If he's out there to close, he's going to stay out there and try to close the game."

Simon converted six of seven save opportunities before he went on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain on May 25.

As a team, the Orioles have blown 12 of 23 save chances.

Pie closing in on return

Orioles outfielder Felix Pie (torn muscle in back) will begin a minor league rehab assignment at one of the club's minor league affiliates on Tuesday, his final step before returning to the team. He hasn't played since April 15.

"We were all looking forward to seeing what kind of year he could have had after putting it all together at the end of last year like he did," interim manager Juan Samuel said. "But yes we are interested to see if he can come up and pick up where he left off."

Pie was hitting .400 (8-for-20) with a homer and an RBI when he went on the disabled list. Samuel said that the club hasn't decided where he'll begin the rehab assignment and how long it will last as it depends largely on the schedules of the affiliates.

Reliever Michael Gonzalez (left shoulder strain) was scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday and also could begin a rehab assignment late this week.

O's still eyeing Fox

The Orioles continue to have dialogue with the Oakland Athletics about a potential trade for utility man Jake Fox, according to sources. The A's designated Fox on June 14 and have 10 days to either trade him, try to push him through waivers and assign him to the minor leagues or give him his outright release.

It's unlikely that he'd clear waivers especially with the league-worst Orioles maintaining some interest, which chould prompt Oakland to make a deal .

Fox, 27, hit .214 with two homers and 12 RBIs for Oakland after batting .259 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs for the Chicago Cubs last year. He can catch, and play both corner infield and outfield positions.

His addition could lead the Orioles to designate seldom-used first baseman Garrett Atkins for assignment.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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