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Ballard, Tackett called up, with Mercedes to...


Ballard, Tackett called up, with Mercedes to follow

TORONTO -- Left-hander Jeff Ballard and rookie catcher Jeff Tackett will join the Baltimore Orioles roster in time for the weekend series against the Kansas City Royals at Memorial Stadium.

The Orioles announced the second round of September call-ups after last night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Their September roster expansion also includes pitcher Francisco de la Rosa, who was recalled from the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings on Tuesday, and eventually will include Luis Mercedes, who will be activated later this weekend.

Ballard, who was optioned to Rochester on July 30, will spend the final month of the major-league season in the Orioles bullpen after posting a 3-3 record and a 4.41 ERA in seven minor-league starts. He was 6-11 with a 5.34 ERA at the major-league level.

Tackett will give the Orioles added depth behind the plate, but probably will see only limited action.

He batted just .237 for Rochester, but threw out 52 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him. No one in the International League did it better.

Mercedes already is in Baltimore. He met with members of the front office Tuesday to discuss the disciplinary problems that led to two suspensions this year. He is expected to work out with the club for a couple of days before being activated Sunday.

The Orioles leadoff candidate batted .334 for the Red Wings before he was suspended for intentionally injuring an opposing player with his batting helmet.

Oates on McDonald

Pitcher Ben McDonald, who came out of Tuesday night's game with a stiff shoulder, said yesterday that the discomfort had subsided and that he would make his next start on schedule. But the series of injuries he has incurred this year has ++ to be cause for concern.

"I think the pattern that has developed has to be addressed," manager John Oates said. "What can we do to circumvent the situation? I told him this afternoon that I would expect him to pitch 200 innings next year. That's a goal he should have -- not just go home and fish and eat gumbo.

"He should continue to work out and come to spring training in shape and make it a goal to pitch 200 innings. I think that would be a good idea for all of our starters."

Rotation set

Right-hander Dave Johnson has been sent to the bullpen again to make room for the return of Jose Mesa, who will come off the disabled list to start Saturday's game against the Royals.

The rotation for the series also has Mike Mussina tomorrow night and McDonald on Sunday, but Oates said that Johnson will return to the rotation if McDonald still is sore from Tuesday night's game.

Orsulak back

Outfielder Joe Orsulak was back in the lineup after missing two games with a jammed right shoulder and a sore hamstring.

Orsulak, who jammed his shoulder diving for a ball at the Metrodome on Sunday, said he has had discomfort in the area before and may need an extended rest at the end of the season to heal completely.

"I don't think it's going to stop hurting until a month after the season," he said, "but there's no use shutting it down now."

Davis on Davis

First baseman Glenn Davis pulled out of a 1-for-19 slump with three straight hits in Tuesday night's game, then tried to explain why he has struggled at the plate the past two weeks.

"I want to do well and I want to help the team," he said. "At the same time, I want to show what I can do and give something back to the fans for the way they have supported me. Mix it all together and that's a lot to have on your mind. I'm really just getting started. This is like the start of the season for me."

Davis has appeared in 15 games since he returned from a four-month stay on the disabled list. He has had a couple of big games, but still is feeling his way around a league full of pitchers he never has faced.

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