Orioles pitchers need to be careful heading into NL territory

As the Orioles continue a two-week stretch of Interleague play and go on the road for nine games beginning Friday in Milwaukee, they head into uncharted territory for 2008.  For the first time this season, the Orioles pitchers will have to hit and run the bases as the O's are required to play National League rules.

What is generally simply an unfamiliar and awkward situation for American League pitchers, who almost never find themselves in the batter's box and even more rarely on the base paths, has been elevated to a genuine danger over the last week.  Two AL pitchers, the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang and the Red Sox' Bartolo Colon were both hurt performing unfamiliar offensive duties.

Wang, who was 8-2 with a 4.07 ERA, suffered the worse of the injuries. He tore a tendon and sprained a ligament in his right foot rounding third base in Houston last weekend and is out at least 10 weeks.

Colon, 4-2, 4.09 ERA, hurt himself merely swinging the bat against the Phillies on Monday.  He had to leave the game after five innings and now he's on the 15-day DL with back problems.

Yankees executive Hank Steinbrenner blew up after Wang's injury saying, ''My only message is simple. The National League needs to join the 21st century. They need to grow up and join the 21st century."

It's unrealistic to expect that the Orioles' pitchers will contribute much at the plate as the team swings through NL ballparks in Milwaukee, Chicago and Washington but O's fans have to keep their fingers crossed that the hurlers at least stay out of harm's way.



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