Rochester shuttle getting a workout


BOSTON -- Tommy Shields, who joined the Orioles a week ago, was returned to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings last night. The move was necessary to make room for Richie Lewis, the starting pitcher in last night's game against the Red Sox.

Shields appeared in two Orioles games, both times as a pinch runner. He had been called up to fill in for Tim Hulett, who is on the disabled list because of the death of his 6-year-old son, Sam.

The addition of Lewis gave the Orioles 11 pitchers, but immediately after the game he was returned to Rochester. The Orioles won't need a fifth starter until a week from Tuesday, in Toronto.

Hulett is not eligible to return to the active list until Thursday, and the Orioles will want to add a position player until he returns. After being sent back to Rochester, Shields must stay at least 10 days before being eligible for recall -- unless somebody else goes on the DL.

Jack Voigt, a right-handed hitting outfielder who has been playing third base at Rochester while Shields was with the Orioles, is a possibility to fill in until Hulett returns.

Fundamental frustration

Orioles manager Johnny Oates cited two plays as being crucial in the 7-4 loss to the Red Sox yesterday afternoon. Both took place in the fifth inning, and Leo Gomez was involved in both.

In the top of the inning, singles by Gomez and Mark McLemore put runners on first and third with none out. Jeff Tackett followed with a hard ground ball to Wade Boggs at third base.

Gomez broke for the plate, hesitated, then tried unsuccessfully to get back to third base, leaving runners on first and second with one out. "On that play, the runner on third has to be running all the way," Oates said.

"If they go for the double play, which they probably would have done, at least we get the run. If they throw home, you get in a rundown and get runners to second and third, or at least first and third."

It may have cost the Orioles a run, because Brady Anderson followed with a drive that Tom Brunansky caught in deep right field and that would easily have scored a runner from third.

The play in the bottom half of the inning may have been even more costly. With one out and Tony Pena on first base, John Valentin dropped a bunt along the first-base line. It appeared that Gomez could have made the play easily, but Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina cut in front of him and fielded the ball on the run.

Mussina almost made a great play, but his throw, from five feet on the other side of the foul line, pulled Randy Milligan off first base. "If Leo had called Mike off that ball, he makes the play easy," said Oates. "On a play like that, the pitcher keeps going until the third baseman calls him off."

Oates said those kinds of mistakes at this point in the season are more bothersome to him than the unsettled condition of his pitching staff.

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