By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
6:37 PM EDT, May 7, 2011
Orioles reliever Koji Uehara said he feels better than he did at any time last season. It just hasn't shown in his results recently.
Uehara started the year with 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his first five games, allowing just one hit and two walks. In his past six appearances, covering seven innings, Uehara has given up seven hits, two walks, five runs and three homers. His ERA during that span is 12.60, pushing his season ERA to 3.86.
"The major leagues is all about results," Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang. "So to give up runs is really frustrating."
Uehara said he believes the recent funk is "technical stuff," and happening primarily because he is "having a difficult time being comfortable from the stretch, I think that has to do with it."
The numbers support that theory. Uehara has allowed one run, one homer and just four total hits in 29 at-bats with no runners on (.138 average), and four hits, two walks, two homers and seven runs scored with runners on base in 14 at-bats (.286 average).
For the season, the control artist has yielded four walks and three homers in 11 2/3 innings after walking five and allowing five homers in 44 innings in 2010. Uehara, however, said he is not concerned about the homers or walks right now.
"I know I gave up three [homers] and one of them was not really important. So I am not really concerned. The one I gave up against Boston and the one I gave up [Friday] night were something I should be more careful about," Uehara said. "I believe there is a situation where you could walk someone and a situation where you cannot. I believe those cases it was a situation where I could give up the walk. So I am not really concerned [there] either."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he's not worried about his 36-year-old reliever.
"I still have a lot of confidence he will able to pitch some good meaningful innings for us. And he has," Showalter said. "There have been periods where he has pitched scoreless like he was the last two months last year, so it's not like he's a completely different guy."
Simon returns to clubhouse
Alfredo Simon was back in the Orioles clubhouse Saturday and received warm greetings from several players including Robert Andino and Jeremy Guthrie, who bear-hugged the big reliever.
Simon, who spent roughly two months in a Dominican Republic jail as the suspect in a New Year's Day fatal shooting, pitched for the first time this season Thursday for Double-A Bowie. He will throw a bullpen session at Camden Yards today and then take the mound for the Baysox again on Wednesday. He said he was a little sore after his first start, but ultimately felt great to be back.
"I feel way better than I was. I just want to keep my mind clear," said Simon, who was never charged with a crime and came to the United States on a work visa in early April. "I try to keep everything that happened behind me and I want to help the team."
Currently on the restricted list, Simon likely will have to be placed on the 25-man roster by roughly May 22, be released or placed on waivers. He could be used as a starter or long reliever if he returns to the roster.
"Right now, he's getting stretched out where he can do either," Showalter said. "We will see what our needs are at the time he becomes available and see if everyone feels he's worthy to activate him here."
Simon's best friend on the Orioles, reliever Michael Gonzalez, said he's noticed a definite change in Simon since he returned to the U.S.
"It was really awesome to see him here. … The way he goes about his business now has changed a lot and I am happy to see that," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes, we go through things that are either going to knock us down or make us stronger. And, in Simon's case, it definitely made him stronger."
Mapping out Matusz
Left-hander Brian Matusz (intercostal strain) threw 24 pitches to six batters in two innings on Saturday morning in extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla. — his first live action since going on the disabled list at the start of the season.
He'll pitch again in Sarasota on Wednesday — on three days' rest — and then is scheduled to pitch a four-inning stint on May 16 for an affiliate. Exactly where has not been announced. If everything goes well, Showalter said Matusz will then pitch five innings on May 21 and possibly six innings on May 26.
It's possible Matusz could be activated by the Orioles on May 21, but it is more likely it would be May 26 or later.
"Obviously, if he becomes a five-inning guy you better be pretty comfortable that your bullpen is loaded up to pitch four innings," Showalter said. "I'm not saying we would bring him back for five."
Around the horn
The Rays' 15 hits on Saturday were the most allowed by the Orioles this season. … DH Vladimir Guerrero didn't walk in his first 27 games. He has walked in three of his past four. … Showalter said prospect Manny Machado's left knee injury — which was diagnosed as a patellar subluxation — was similar to what Norfolk's Josh Bell suffered earlier this year that kept him out of action only a few days. Machado, who is excelling at Single-A Delmarva, is expected to be placed on the 7-day disabled list. … Tampa Bay outfielder Brandon Guyer's home run in his first major-league at-bat on Friday was the first time a player has debuted with a homer in Camden Yards history. … The Orioles have lost the past eight games that Brad Bergesen, today's starter, has pitched in. The streak goes back to 2010.
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