The Orioles' Triple-A affiliate in Rochester has become a refuge for troubled pitchers in need of a second chance, a club willing to reach out to any arm with a pulse.
The latest to be grabbed was Dave Fleming, a left-hander released three times since January 1997 and two years removed from rotator cuff surgery.
Since the season began, the Orioles have plucked Sidney Ponson, Doug Johns and Nerio Rodriguez from the Red Wings. They also brought up Richie Lewis for a brief spell, long enough to find he wasn't the answer and becoming the latest club to reject him.
In their place, the Orioles added Fleming and two pitchers who hadn't been in the majors since 1995 -- Steve Ontiveros and Jim Converse. They joined a large cast of characters in an ever-changing rotation, including former closer Steve Montgomery, who permitted one earned run in 11 innings of his first two starts.
When Terry Mathews was handed the ball June 12 as part of his injury rehabilitation assignment, he became Rochester's 14th different starter in 58 games. Two days later, Everett Stull made his first start since going on the disabled list in spring training with a torn knee ligament. He allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Injuries have been as big a hinderance to the Red Wings as ineffectiveness and call-ups. Julio Moreno was shut down in spring training with inflammation in his right shoulder, and again after throwing one inning in Sarasota, Fla. Rodriguez went on the DL with tendinitis in his right shoulder. They were supposed to anchor the staff.
The only constant has been Joel Bennett, who won his first eight decisions. But within all this turmoil comes these numbers: Heading into the weekend, Rochester's staff had gone 7-4 with a 2.61 ERA over the previous 11 games.
Right-hander Terry Burrows had allowed just one earned run and 12 hits in his last 22 1/3 innings spanning five appearances.
Rochester Red Wings
Left-hander Gavin Osteen had not allowed an earned run in his last 4 1/3 innings and led Rochester relievers with a 2.61 ERA going into the weekend. Outfielder Ricky Otero, claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies, had hit safely in 23 of his past 27 games, batting .291 with 11 doubles, one triple, two homers and 15 RBIs. Outfielder Danny Clyburn homered in back-to-back games last week and had driven in nine runs in five games. Clyburn, who was on an injury rehab assignment, was optioned to Rochester and placed on the active roster Thursday. He had fractured his foot during spring training.
Shortstop David Lamb and first baseman Calvin Pickering were named to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star team. Lamb went into the weekend tied for third in the league with 71 hits. Pickering was third in RBIs with 45. Lamb's 15-game hitting streak ended Tuesday when he was retired as a pinch hitter against Norwich. He batted .400 during the streak and recently became Bowie's all-time leading hitter with a .320 average. Speedster Eugene Kingsale scored the winning run from first base on a single to right-center field by Howie Clark on June 16 against Norwich.
Single-A catcher Chip Alley and right-hander Josh Towers were named Organizational Player and Pitcher of the Month for May, respectively. Alley batted .338 with 10 doubles, four homers, 17 RBIs and 18 walks in 25 games. Towers went 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA in five starts. He also was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Month. Alley became the sixth member of the Keys to be named to the league's All-Star team when Wilmington's Pat Hallmark was injured. Shortstop Jerry Hairston had hits in eight of his past nine games before the weekend, batting .319.
Third baseman Richard Paz's 13-game hitting streak ended Thursday, and he failed to reach via a hit or walk for only the fourth time in his past 55 games. He batted .479 during his streak. Right-hander Jay Spurgeon was 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in his past six starts. Paz and catcher Jayson Werth each went 0-for-1 in the Single-A South Atlantic League all-star game. Right-hander Brandon Huntsman pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two. The league awarded Delmarva the 1999 All-Star Game.
Pub Date: 6/22/98