Bielecki stretches out for promotion
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The seventh-inning stretch has a new meaning for Rochester Red Wings pitcher Mike Bielecki.
Bielecki, a right-hander from Dundalk, has extended himself into the seventh only once in five Triple-A starts as he continues his comeback from elbow surgery, which was performed last July 31.
"The only thing I have to prove is that I'm physically capable of starting a game in the big leagues and keeping the team in the game for seven or eight innings," he said.
His durability has been more of an issue than the quality of his pitches.
"He's thrown strikes with all his pitches," manager Bob Miscik said. "He's thrown 84 or 85 [mph]. If his arm bounces back, he'll be above average for a major-leaguer."
Bielecki says he doesn't have any pain, only a tightness late in games, "almost like it's telling me, 'That's enough.' "
He said he has come a long way from the start of the season in Cleveland, when he couldn't make it past the fourth or fifth inning.
Bielecki, who signed with the Orioles June 29 after an impromptu workout in Camden Yards, has pledged himself to his hometown team through Aug. 1. Then, he said, he has the option of pursuing big-league employment elsewhere if he feels 100 percent.
"It's not like an ultimatum, I have to be there or else," he said. "If I don't think I'm physically ready to go somewhere else and start, I'll stay here."
* Versatile Randy Ready has replaced one-dimensional Scott Coolbaugh as the regular third baseman, a sign that the Orioles are interested in the utility man as a backup to Tim Hulett.
"He's solid defensively at a lot of positions," Miscik said. "He moves runners over. He's a heads-up base runner."
Ready has totaled three errors at third base, first base and left field.
The move has put Coolbaugh, who has 13 homers and 52 RBI, on the bench.
Ready's contract allows him to contact other major-league teams about a big-league job. The major-league veteran said he has been in touch with other teams but had nothing to report.
* John O'Donoghue missed Monday's start because of a groin injury suffered in the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 14. He started last night at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Miscik said a tired arm may have led to the left-hander's 1-3 record with a no-decision in his past five starts.
* Shortstop Manny Alexander has hit in all five games (9-for-22) since being moved from last to leadoff. Miscik said Alexander needed extra at-bats to learn the strike zone and cut down on his free swinging. Alexander has been on base less than 30 percent of the time, last among the regulars.
NOTES: Kevin McGehee lowered his league-leading ERA to 2.08 after giving up one run in seven innings Wednesday. . . . Miscik said Orioles assistant GM Frank Robinson was pleased with the progress of RF Mark Smith and Alexander. . . . Robinson volunteered to sign autographs for 30 minutes before Wednesday's game at Silver Stadium. He signed for 40 minutes. . . . C Mark Parent threw out all four would-be Norfolk base-stealers Wednesday. . . . LF Chito Martinez was 16-for-34 with four homers and 14 RBI during a 10-game hitting streak. . . . 2B Tommy Hinzo was 11-for-29 during a seven-game streak. . . . The one-time beleaguered bullpen was 2-0 with three saves and a 0.53 ERA during the recent six-game winning streak. . . . Don Schulze has a victory and two saves during that stretch. . . . Miscik said what makes Arthur Rhodes effective is that his fastball is on the hitter so quickly. Miscik said some pitchers throw a heavy ball, meaning batters feel they've hit a rock when the make contact. But Rhodes' arm action just whips the ball in so quickly, hitters can't get set, the manager said.
It's clear that Bowie Baysox left-hander Terry Farrar's tired shoulder got a good rest when he was on the disabled list for three weeks in June.
In his three Double-A starts before going on the DL, he gave up 11 hits and nine walks in 7 2/3 innings. In his first four starts after coming off the DL, he posted a 4-0 record and a 1.47 ERA to improve his season's numbers to 5-2 and 3.07.
* Outfielder Stanton Cameron batted .500 with three doubles, three home runs and six RBI in a recent three-game stretch.
* The Baysox's 14-13 loss to London on Wednesday was their wildest, and best, game of the season. They trailed 12-2 after three innings, took a 13-12 lead in the eighth, then gave up the tying run in the eighth and the winning run in the ninth. "It was the most exciting game I've ever called," said Baysox public relations director and radio man Dave Collins, who has broadcast about 1,000 games.
NOTES: After hitting only two homers in his first 339 Eastern League games, IF Sam Ferretti hit three in his next 27. . . . All five of OF Kyle Washington's out-of-the-park homers have been on the road, in five different parks. His sixth, an inside-the-park job, was at Memorial Stadium.
Keys: Millares unstoppable
FREDERICK -- There was no need to console the Frederick Keys' Jose Millares simply because he failed to hit for the cycle.
In Thursday night's 13-5 Single-A victory over the Winston-Salem Spirit, Millares went 4-for-5: a single, double and two home runs, including a grand slam.
The Keys matched their season high in runs, set July 11 against the Lynchburg Red Sox.
Curtis Goodwin extended his hitting streak to six, raising his average to .277, and Scott McClain increased his to eight, and his average to .257. With 51 stolen bases, Goodwin has a huge lead in the Carolina League race.
NOTES: Frederick is the first team in the league with three starters with eight or more wins. Jimmy Haynes joined Scott Klingenbeck and Rick Forney with his eighth Wednesday against Winston-Salem. . . . The Keys' 17-inning, 5-hour, 27-minute victory over Prince William was the second-longest game in time in their four-year history. The longest was in 1990, 5 hours, 42 minutes. . . . On Opening Day this year, the Keys had a 4-hour 3-minute game. . . . Forney is No. 5 in the league with a 3.08 ERA, Alex Ochoa is No. 3 in RBI (67) and Forney and Haynes are tied for No. 2 in strikeouts (118). Basilio Ortiz is No. 10 in hitting at .291. . . . The Orioles' No. 1 draft choice, pitcher Jay Powell, is working out with the Keys before reporting to Single-A Albany.
Suns: Home cooking
HAGERSTOWN -- Of their 42 remaining South Atlantic League games after last night's opener of a 14-game homestand, the Single-A Hagerstown Suns, a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate, have 26 at home.
All of their last 16 road games are against Northern Division clubs. The Suns are well over .500 against Northern teams and just under .500 against Southern teams.
NOTES: Lee Daniels had a streak of six saves in seven appearances in which he gave up one run in nine innings. . . . C Angel Martinez threw out 24 of the first 50 runners who tried to steal, a league-best of 48 percent. The Suns have suffered the ignominy of 15 strikeouts twice this season -- but have won both times, against Columbus in April and Albany last week. . . . SS Eddie Zosky, sent to Hagerstown by Toronto on a rehabilitation assignment because of a bad elbow, has yet to play in a game. He is working out with the team.