Kevin McGehee will never be able to say the Orioles pampered him in his first big-league appearance.
McGehee, who led the International League in ERA when he was called up yesterday from Triple-A Rochester, stepped off a plane and into a caldron last night at Oriole Park when manager Johnny Oates handed him the ball in the second inning against the Texas Rangers.
Welcome to the big leagues, kid.
"There was a lot of adrenalin there," said McGehee, a right-handed native of Alexandria, La. "I was really psyched up at that point."
"I didn't know what was going to give out first, his arm or his jaw the way he was chewing that gum. He was keeping up with me in the dugout," said Oates.
McGehee, 24, who fills the roster spot of disabled pitcher Rick Sutcliffe (torn cartilage in his left knee) hit Gonzalez in the back with a pitch, and things got progressively worse.
Julio Franco drove in two runs with a single to left, and then Dean Palmer completed the greeting with a three-run homer into the left-field seats.
"I'd feel better if I had made the pitches when I had to," said McGehee, who threw 68 pitches, and gave up five runs and seven hits in four innings of relief for starter Fernando Valenzuela. "If I make my pitches, I'll be OK. They [the Rangers] are good hitters and I respect their abilities, but they're human."
"After Kevin got his feet on the ground, he pitched well. He's got a chance," said Oates.
McGehee, who came to the Orioles on April 29 in a trade with the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Luis Mercedes, was 7-6 with the Red Wings with a 2.96 ERA.
He said he found out about his call-up late Sunday night and packed quickly to get to Baltimore in time for last night's game.
"It's kind of been a long day," said McGehee.
McGehee, who made 24 starts between Rochester and Phoenix, the Giants' Triple-A affiliate, is likely slotted for the long relief role left vacant by Sutcliffe.
The adjustment from starter to reliever is one that McGehee isn't quite used to.
"I've never warmed up like that before. I was trying to get ready quick, maybe too quick," said McGehee. "Being a starter, I have four days to prepare. Learning how to warm up will be a key for me."
But if first impressions count for anything, Oates seemed to like what he saw.
"I was impressed by the way he threw the ball," said Oates. "He looked like he threw the ball easy. He had trouble getting the ball inside, but he threw his off-speed pitches well. He looked like he might be a little sneaky. He threw it past a couple of guys."