Baseball's road has been long and winding for Brian DuBois, but he isn't about to stop driving.
Once upon a time, he was at the top of the hill -- in the major leagues with the Detroit Tigers -- and his path seemed clear and smooth.
Now, 26, he is trying to climb the mountain again in second gear, chugging along with the Bowie Baysox in the hope of reaching the peak for the second time. Twice DuBois has undergone operations on his left (pitching) elbow.
In late 1990 after winning three games for the Tigers and five in Triple-A, he was forced to have "Tommy John surgery" 16 days after being reclaimed on waivers by the Orioles, who originally had drafted him five years earlier on the fourth round.
The Orioles traded DuBois to the Tigers for Keith Moreland during their pennant run of 1989.
DuBois spent all of 1991 on the Orioles' disabled list, throwing one pitch on an abortive rehabilitation assignment.
"There was discomfort, so we shut it down immediately," he said.
Then, he had to undergo another operation to reattach the ligament to the bone and missed all of 1992.
Now DuBois has resurfaced this season with a 6-2 record and Carolina League-leading 1.55 ERA at Single-A Frederick -- his best start -- before advancing to the Baysox early last month.
He has yet to win for Bowie after five starts and missed one turn with some soreness. But his ERA is at 2.97, and he appears to be on the right road.
"There is still tenderness in his arm, and that's to be expected," said Baysox pitching coach John O'Donoghue. "But the last start at Reading his velocity was better than at any time since he's been here.
"It's going to be a slow process and right now the important thing for him is to be healthy. I do see progress. The frustrating part is that he cannot do what he used to do."
The comeback trail should be easier for DuBois, a finesse pitcher, than it was for a former hard thrower such as Anthony Telford. But he must be careful not to harm his left shoulder while favoring the elbow.
"Jose Mesa came back from this. More and more people are coming back quicker and quicker," he said. "I've got a start, but really I'm just happy to be pitching."
NOTES: Baysox left-hander Rick Krivda is the only member of the team who was picked for the Double-A All-Star Game next week at Memphis, Tenn. Krivda is 6-3 with a 3.43 ERA. Bowie's Don Buford will manage the American League team based on his team's 37-30 record through June 24. . . . Erik Schullstrom has a 7.64 ERA against Canton-Akron and a 1.20 ERA against the rest of the league. . . . Stanton Cameron led the team with six home runs in June, three more than he had in April and May. . . . Kyle Washington is 14-for-31 (.451) with 10 runs scored, two homers, seven stolen bases and eight RBI in the past 12 games. ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- If there's one statistic most players don't like to talk about, it's their errors. Manny Alexander, however, would rather talk about that number than his batting average.
The Red Wings shortstop is thrilled to have made only eight errors in 60 games, a pace that would trim at least a dozen off the more than 30 he had last season at Double-A. As long as he plays well defensively, he said he can live with his batting average of .260.
Most of last year's errors came on wild throws as Alexander, 23, showed off his arm by waiting until the last instant to throw out runners. "I tried to throw too hard," he said. "Now, as soon as I catch the ball, I throw it."
* Mike Bielecki threw 77 of his allotted 80 pitches in his debut Thursday and came out of the 7-1 loss to Richmond reporting that his right elbow felt fine. Bielecki gave up five runs in the fourth inning, one on a wild pitch.
One good sign was he pitched ahead. He threw 15 of 23 first pitches for strikes and finished with one walk and six strikeouts. Bielecki, who underwent elbow surgery last year and was picked up by the Orioles last week, is expected to have his pitch limit increased to close to 100 in his next start.
* Outfielder Mark Smith and left-hander John O'Donoghue were named as starters and second baseman Tommy Hinzo was selected as a reserve for the American League in the sixth annual Triple-A All-Star Game, July 14 in Albuquerque, N.M.
While O'Donoghue and Smith said they were flattered, the honor may mean more to Hinzo, who spent the past two seasons in Mexico.
"The recognition doesn't hurt," said Hinzo, 29, who was batting .278 with three homers, 39 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
* With newest starters Bielecki and Arthur Rhodes on pitch limits, the bullpen could expect more work. Starters O'Donoghue and Kevin McGehee aren't likely to be pushed off their scheduled days, but Mike Oquist and Jason Satre will have to accommodate the newcomers.
"We are here to supply the major-league club," said manager Bob Miscik, who has sent nine players to the Orioles this season. "If we can help Arthur and Bielecki go up and help Baltimore win the pennant, what happens on this club is secondary."
* Right-hander Todd Stephan went on the disabled list Monday because of a strained pitching elbow. Stephan had struck out 14 batters in his past 8 1/3 innings, including nine in four innings June 21 against Charlotte.
* Mel Wearing may again find himself the odd man out now that Chito Martinez has joined the team. The Red Wings are back to five outfielders, and if Smith is still a prospect, it's doubtful Martinez would push him out of right field. That could leave him as the DH, and Wearing on the bench.
NOTES: McGehee threw 111 pitches in an 11-inning, 3-2, complete-game victory over Toledo last Sunday. . . . The Red Wings haven't won two in a row since a doubleheader sweep June 11.
Keys: It's Millares' bat
FREDERICK -- Jose Millares returned from Double-A with his bat booming. The infielder-outfielder, sent from Bowie to help a foundering Frederick offense, had 10 hits in his first 28 at-bats, helping the Keys to a five-game winning streak. Millares raised his Keys' average from .232 to .268 during the span, scoring four runs and knocking in four.
* The Keys lost reliever Mark Smith to the Baysox, who needed pitching help. Smith, who had won his past three decisions, was 4-5 with a 4.64 ERA for Frederick.
NOTES: The Keys took over the Carolina League lead in total attendance, 172,066. They are behind Wilmington in average with 4,412. . . . Jimmy Haynes missed one start with some soreness in his arm, but returned to the rotation. . . . Frederick's pitchers are third in the league with a 3.69 ERA, but the batters rank sixth at 2.52.
Suns: Boston is rising, too
HAGERSTOWN -- Daryl Boston, of the Colorado Rockies, has been a solid major-leaguer with several teams, but his little brother may be even better.
First baseman D. J. Boston of the Hagerstown Suns is ripping through Single-A South Atlantic League pitching with a .334 average, fourth in the league.
A left-handed hitter, he is batting .333 against left-handers and .. despite his 6-foot-7 frame, also runs well. He has 20 stolen bases.
He and Jose Herrera, the league's leading hitter at .349, have been carrying the Suns' offense.
NOTES: A lack of punch from the rest of the lineup has been a big problem. The Suns have been shut out seven times, including six times on the road by six teams. They were defeated twice in a row, 1-0, and went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position. . . . In the Suns' 37 victories, their team batting average was .299. In their 39 losses, it was .215. . . . Officials are hoping for a big crowd Wednesday for a team photo giveaway as attendance continues to drag.