Gap in rotation now becomes focus of attention


The Orioles took care of their primary concern of needing another power hitter by trading for slugger Bobby Bonilla on Friday night.

Now the focus turns to pitching. Specifically, who will take Ben McDonald's place in the starting rotation?

McDonald, suffering from tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday.

McDonald, who is expected to be out until at least the end of August, possibly September, is scheduled to begin his rehabilitation program with noted sports physician James Andrews early this week.

Orioles manager Phil Regan said rookie left-hander Rick Krivda, called up from Rochester to start against the White Sox last night, will be given an opportunity to win a spot in the rotation.

Krivda has taken a positive step in that direction. He pitched 5 1/3 inings last night, allowing eight hits and three runs with one walk (intentional) and two strikeouts.

"[Last night] was not a one-shot deal for him," Regan said. "It all depends on how he pitches. I have to see how he does. I can't say right now that this is what we're going to do."

Said pitching coach Mike Flanagan: "We're looking short term at this moment, but I don't doubt that Krivda can be a successful major-league pitcher."

Krivda was impressive in his major-league debut against the White Sox at Comiskey Park on July 7.

Called up for a spot start, he limited Chicago to seven hits and two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. Krivda, who walked two and struck out seven, did not get a decision in the Orioles' 5-2 victory.

Except for that one start, Krivda has spent the rest of the season at Rochester before being recalled yesterday. He was 6-5 with a 3.19 ERA in 16 starts for the Red Wings.

If Krivda falters, the Orioles may give left-hander Arthur Rhodes another shot, although Regan said he is happy to have Rhodes in the bullpen.

Rhodes struggled as a starter before being optioned to Rochester May 26 through June 20, but he has pitched well since moving to the bullpen several weeks ago.

In 16 2/3 innings of relief, Rhodes has allowed eighy hits and six earned runs (3.24 ERA). He struck out a career-high 10 -- second-best by an American League reliever this season -- in seven innings against the Kansas City Royals on July 13.

"I like having a good left-hander coming out of the bullpen like him," Regan said. "It gives us a left-hander to use as a long middle man."

Said Flanagan: "Arthur is adding to his resume by being able to pitch successfully out of the bullpen and we know he can start, so it's a nice situation for us that we have an Arthur Rhodes in the waiting."

Regan said he hasn't discounted the idea of making the fifth spot in the rotation specific to the opposition.

"I can't say that if the Yankees bring up Darryl Strawberry and have Ruben Sierra and Wade Boggs and Don Mattingly and Paul O'Neill that I haven't thought about pitching a lot of left-handers against them," he said.

Other candidates for the rotation include Red Wings right-handers John DeSilva (8-6, 4.17) and Jimmy Haynes (7-7, 3.23). DeSilva was 1-0 with a 7.27 ERA in two starts with the Orioles in late June and early July.

Another possibility is that the Orioles would pursue a deal for a veteran pitcher.

"You always pay attention, but I don't know that we'll make any move in that regard," Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said.

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