MINNEAPOLIS - With his bullpen "pretty cooked," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove gained an extra reliever yesterday when Leslie Brea arrived from Triple-A Rochester.
The club had decided against promoting Brea as rosters expanded, but that was before Hargrove went through six pitchers on Sunday, including starter Jay Spurgeon, in a 12-11, 13-inning loss to the Cleveland Indians. Mike Trombley went a season-high 3 1/3 innings, with his last pitch being drilled into the right-field seats by Kenny Lofton. B.J. Ryan had proceeded him and tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Brea made his major-league debut Aug. 13 in Kansas City as an emergency starter after Pat Rapp left the club to be with his ailing father. He allowed six runs in 3 1/3 innings before being optioned to the Red Wings the next day. He was 1-2 with a 6.05 ERA in four starts with Rochester after going 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA at Double-A Bowie.
"I see it as a second chance," said Brea, who hasn't pitched since Friday.
Hargrove indicated that Brea would be used exclusively in relief unless "we run into something unusual."
"I really don't care," Brea said. "However they want to use me, I'm ready. I've come out of the 'pen a lot before. This is my first full year starting."
Brea, acquired from the New York Mets in the Mike Bordick deal, hadn't been throwing particularly well at Triple-A until picking up his only win Aug. 27 in Ottawa, when he allowed one run and struck out six in six innings.
"It could be better," Brea said. "It's been a real, real long season for me, with the changes and going from Double-A to Triple-A and all the traveling and stuff. It's sort of gotten me away a little bit from what I need to be doing. I'm basically doing more traveling than pitching. I don't get a chance to run and keep myself in shape. It hurts me a little bit. But, thank goodness, I don't have any problems with my arm or anything."
Brea still could end up in the instructional league once the Orioles conclude their season. He admits to needing some work with his mechanics, eliminating a tendency to lean forward rather than staying back. "It doesn't give me enough time for my arm to catch up with my body, so that's why sometimes I'm up high in the strike zone," he said.
Brea's age has also been something of a problem. Listed as 21 by the Mets and Major League Baseball, Brea told reporters in Kansas City he was actually 26. Yesterday, Brea claimed he was joking and said his 22nd birthday would be celebrated Oct.12.
Steve Phillips, the Mets' general manager, has admitted that his club suspects Brea is "at least 23." A Mets minor-league official said Brea is 28.
Ripken unlikely in field
It appears more certain that Cal Ripken won't play in the field during the last two games against the Minnesota Twins because of the stress placed on his lower back by the artificial surface. But he made his second straight start as the designated hitter yesterday for the first time since coming off the disabled list, and could be in the lineup again tonight.
"We'll check him to see how he is for [tonight's] game," Hargrove said.
If Ripken plays tonight, he'd most likely sit out tomorrow's day game. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI yesterday. He lined sharply to center to end the eighth inning.
Checking Riley's arm
Matt Riley will be examined in Baltimore today by team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs after injuring his left arm pitching in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader in Harrisburg, Pa.
Riley, who had regained his effectiveness after a series of poor outings at Rochester and Bowie, collapsed in pain after unleashing a pitch. The early diagnosis was a strained muscle in his left forearm.
The Orioles already had decided against recalling Riley, as they did last September when he made three starts. He's scheduled to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
Around the horn
Hargrove said he hasn't decided whether Parrish will rejoin the rotation after allowing three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings against Buffalo. He also walked three and struck out five in a 4-1 loss. ... Infielders Ryan Minor and Ivanon Coffie and catcher Willie Morales arrive today from Rochester. Each player has spent time with the Orioles this season.