Parrish thrown into fire with debut vs. Yankees


TORONTO -- John Parrish sat in the visitors' clubhouse at SkyDome yesterday morning, playing cards at one of the tables and still unaware of the assignment that awaited him.

It wasn't until later in the day that Parrish was told of tonight's start against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards, and how he'd be facing five-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens.

Welcome to the big leagues, kid.

Parrish, 22, hasn't pitched since Tuesday at Triple-A Rochester, one day before being called up when the Orioles released Darren Holmes. His opportunity in the rotation came when the Orioles were forced to play a doubleheader on Thursday because of a rainout the previous night.

Rather than use Sidney Ponson or Scott Erickson on short rest, manager Mike Hargrove will allow the left-hander to make his major-league debut against the two-time defending world champions.

"I don't know where to start," said Parrish, who was 6-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 17 starts at Rochester. "It'll probably hit me tomorrow when I show up on the field. I'm letting the dream set in. There are a bunch of great guys up here and I'm just looking forward to running out there and seeing what I can do.

"I think I'll be nervous, but I'll be confident at the same time. The Yankees were my team growing up and I'll be facing one of the greatest pitchers. It's an overwhelming feeling."

Parrish had been told he'd be pitching tonight. He just wasn't sure if he'd be starting. And he had no idea Clemens would be starting for the Yankees until told by reporters yesterday.

"I'll be concentrating on my game," he said, "but at the same time I'm going to enjoy watching the game and seeing what's going on."

Parrish, from Lancaster, Pa., will have plenty of family members rooting for him. "I'll call my mom tonight. Everybody's going to be coming down," he said.

Rotating the rotation

Hargrove has flip-flopped Ponson and Erickson in the rotation. Ponson, who left Game 1 of Thursday's doubleheader after five innings because of neck stiffness, has been pushed back to Wednesday. Erickson will start tomorrow on normal rest.

Ponson, who has been wearing a neck brace when sleeping, threw in the bullpen yesterday.

"It was a little stiff, but it started to loosen after a few pitches," he said. "I'll be good to go on Wednesday."

'Sore' Clark takes day off

Will Clark showed up at SkyDome yesterday looking like he could use a day off, and Hargrove obliged until using him as a pinch hitter in the ninth.

"He's pretty sore," Hargrove said.

The shoulder?

"No, he's just sore," Hargrove said. "He's a little stiff. I was going to give him the day off [Saturday], but they scored a bunch of runs Friday and I wanted to keep the same lineup out there."

Hargrove started Jeff Conine at first base, trading a hot bat for a cooler one. Clark had gone 9-for-19 in his past four games, and homered in three straight before settling for two singles on Saturday. Conine began yesterday in a 5-for-47 slump, though he had gotten a hit in his past three games.

Make it four. Conine went 3-for-3 with a walk to raise his average to .281. He's 10-for-23 (.435) against the Blue Jays this season.

Clark had hit safely in 19 of his past 22 games, batting .361 (30-for-83) with seven homers, before striking out yesterday.

Around the horn

The Orioles have eight complete games from their starters, second to Toronto's nine in the American League. ... Mike Mussina is 3-6 lifetime at SkyDome. ... The Orioles' road record fell to 17-36.

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