Gabe Molina has been here before. In the Camden Yards clubhouse, and as an abrupt call-up from the minors. It has gotten to be old hat for a pitcher who doesn't turn 25 until next month.
The Orioles recalled Molina from Triple-A Rochester yesterday as the corresponding move to closer Mike Timlin's placement on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 2, with a torn abdominal muscle.
Molina pitched the ninth inning last night and allowed three hits, including a three-run homer to Wendell Magee, and walked one in the Orioles' 14-10 win over the Detroit Tigers.
Timlin received a second opinion yesterday morning, which confirmed a five-centimeter tear that an MRI revealed Thursday. The club delayed an announcement until yesterday, but Molina already had been contacted after Rochester's opener Thursday and told to catch a flight to Baltimore.
"I'll let the other guys do the work," Timlin said, grinning. "I did it last year. Now it's their turn."
Molina made three stops with the Orioles last season, appearing in 20 games and going 1-2 with a 6.65 ERA. He was given one save opportunity, which blew up when Toronto's Willie Greene homered in the ninth inning of a July 7 loss. He's more likely to work the middle innings this time with Mike Trombley available to close games.
"I've just got to come up here and pitch well," Molina said. "It's an opportunity I'm happy to get. Unfortunately, I'm here because Mike Timlin went on the DL, and hopefully he's not hurt for very long. On the other hand, if I get the chance to pitch, I've got to go out there and do my job."
Molina hasn't appeared in a game since Sunday at the club's minor-league camp in Sarasota, Fla. He had a bullpen session Thursday.
Manager Mike Hargrove said he won't judge Molina by his poor spring numbers, which included 10 runs and 13 hits in 8 2/3 innings. The decision to bring up Molina centered on the right-hander being one of only three Rochester pitchers on the 40-man roster, along with starters Jason Johnson and Matt Riley.
"Gabe can give us one to three innings and that's what you're looking for your long guy to give you," Hargrove said.
Timlin is the third Oriole to occupy the disabled list, joining starter Scott Erickson and backup catcher Greg Myers. Erickson went on the DL March 27 after having bone chips removed from his right elbow. Myers landed there Sunday with a strained left hamstring.
New role for Ryan?
Left-hander B.J. Ryan picked up his second major-league win Wednesday. At some point this season, he might get his first save.
Though the ninth inning wasn't kind to Ryan this spring, he has apparently earned Hargrove's trust. The Orioles' manager said Ryan could close some games, especially with Timlin on the disabled list.
Ryan pitched one inning last night, loading the bases in the eighth before getting out of the jam without allowing a run.
Trombley, signed as a free agent in November to serve as a bridge to Timlin, will get most of the save opportunities. But Ryan could sneak into the picture depending on matchups and Trombley's availability.
Hargrove said he considered sending Ryan back out for the ninth inning of Wednesday's game after the Louisiana native had struck out Kenny Lofton -- the only batter he faced -- to end the eighth. Instead, he summoned Trombley when the Orioles went ahead by four runs.
Unlike other relievers on the team, Ryan doesn't have a specific role. He can pitch the ninth, set up the closer or give Hargrove innings in middle relief.
"The great thing about the bullpen is you can be put into any situation. You've just got to be ready whenever, keep an eye on the game and see where they are in the lineup," said Ryan, 24, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds last summer for pitcher Juan Guzman.
"A role is good, but since I don't have one it's no big deal."
Hairston denies rumor
When Jose Mercedes is activated for tomorrow's start against the Tigers, second baseman Jerry Hairston is expected to be sent to Rochester despite hitting .383 with two homers this spring. He's not happy about it, believing he has nothing else to prove in the minors. But Hairston denied a published report that he requested a trade.
Hairston's agent, Casey Close, contacted Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations, on Wednesday to see what plans the team had for his client. Hairston said that was the extent of any contact with the organization regarding his status.
"He takes these things a little more personal than I do," Hairston said. "I never went in and asked to be traded. Never did those words come out of my mouth. I know the situation here. Delino DeShields is the second baseman. They keep saying I'm ready to play in the big leagues, but I'm a second baseman. Something has to happen. Of course I don't want to go to Triple-A, but I love the city of Baltimore. I love everything about this place, and I want to be here a long time."
Hargrove spoke with Hairston before Thursday's game. "He said if I go to Triple-A, it's only because they want me to play every day. That's the only reason I'd get sent down," Hairston said.
"Grover said he heard I wanted to be traded. I said I never said that."
Hargrove indicated that word of Hairston's desire to be moved came from outside the organization.
Would the Orioles consider dealing Hairston? "We're not stupid," Hargrove said.
Case of the jitters
Calvin Maduro said he expected to have butterflies before last night's start against the Tigers. If not, he'd be worried.
The more jitters, it seems, the better. Otherwise, he'd wonder if something was wrong.
"It happens every time I go out there," he said. "If I didn't have them, I'd think I didn't care about the game and wasn't excited about it. I'm pretty sure it happens to everybody when they go out there."
Maduro had sufficient cause for being excited about this one. It was a long time coming.
He hadn't appeared in a major-league game since being sent down to Triple-A Scranton on July 6, 1997. He had opened the season in Philadelphia's rotation, but what began with promise soon deteriorated.
"I wanted to be in the big leagues with the team I originally signed with," he said, "but that wasn't the case. I'm thankful that Philadelphia gave me the chance."
Around the horn
Catcher Willie Morales, who made the club when Myers went on the disabled list, will make his major-league debut tomorrow. Hargrove said he didn't consider using Morales today because the Arizona native never was paired with pitcher Mike Mussina during spring training. Jason Johnson, making his first start for Rochester, threw six shutout innings in Scranton, Pa. He allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two.