ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles made room for Sidney Ponson yesterday by optioning Eugene Kingsale to Triple-A Rochester, increasing their pitching staff to 12. It won't remain that way for long.
A pitcher, perhaps left-hander B. J. Ryan, will be removed from the roster when first baseman David Segui is activated. Segui took another full round of batting practice before last night's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but he might not accompany the team to New York this weekend.
The Orioles would like Segui, who hasn't played since April 22, to get some at-bats at extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla. If Segui agrees, he would miss the Yankees series, which begins Friday. The Orioles are off Monday, and he could be activated the next day when they play the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards.
"I think David's getting closer to coming back. With the personnel we have, we felt like going back to 12 pitchers was probably the thing to do," said manager Mike Hargrove.
Kingsale was called up May 3 as a roster replacement for pitcher Jorge Julio and started one game, going 0-for-4 as Saturday's leadoff hitter against the Yankees. He also pinch-ran twice.
In his previous appearance with the Orioles, Kingsale was thrown out trying to steal second while Chris Richard struck out in the ninth inning of Sunday's loss to New York.
"Eugene's playing time was going to be very short here and he needs to play. He needs at-bats," Hargrove said.
Team works out Lopez
The Orioles worked out pitcher Johann Lopez, the cousin of center fielder Melvin Mora, before batting practice yesterday but probably won't sign him. Lopez threw for about 12 minutes, and his lack of conditioning became apparent after five.
"He was gassed," said one club official.
Lopez hadn't thrown for 10 days since being released by the Texas Rangers. He appeared in three games with Triple-A Oklahoma, allowing three earned runs and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings. He was 6-2 with a 4.15 ERA and five saves in 29 games at Oklahoma last season.
Lopez, 25, never has pitched above Triple-A. He also spent time with Mora in the Houston Astros and New York Mets organizations.
Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations, said he would try to get Lopez a job in Mexico. Lopez no longer has his visa, which complicates any attempts to pitch in the majors.
"He knows he can still pitch," Mora said. "He can do a lot of things. He can be a starter, a closer. He likes to work, and he's young. He throws 92-94 [mph], with a changeup, slider, sinker. He has nasty stuff."
Mora returned to the lineup for the first time since Friday, when he started in center field against the Yankees at Camden Yards. He left the team the next day when his wife, Gisel, was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital because of internal bleeding, but he returned Sunday and made the trip to Tampa.
Gisel, who is pregnant with quintuplets, returned home Tuesday night. Mora's sister will take care of her when he can't be home.
"Now she's fine, and I'm more relaxed," Mora said.
Hargrove kept Mora out of the lineup the past two games, sensing the player needed time to clear his head after growing more concerned about his wife's health. Mora appreciated the gesture, but he said it wasn't necessary.
"I don't bring the family problems to the game. I'm the type of man who, when I leave the house, I concentrate on what I have to do on the field. When I get to the house, then I worry," he said.
"You know I like to play this game. The more I play, the more I relax. It keeps my mind busy. When I sit in the dugout, I think too much."
Name from the past
Remember Juan Guzman, the pitcher who once occupied space in the Orioles' rotation before going to the Cincinnati Reds in a waiver-deadline trade in 1999 that netted Ryan? He signed a two-year, $12.5 million contract with the Devil Rays that expires after this season. So far, they've received 1 2/3 innings on their return.
Guzman was moved to the 60-day disabled list April 24 because of stiffness in his right shoulder, another reminder of the previous year's surgery, and remains restricted to long-tossing and the occasional side session.
He's not the only high-priced Devil Rays starter whose injuries are outnumbering his innings. Wilson Alvarez, who signed a five-year, $35 million contract before their inaugural season, hasn't appeared in a game since Oct. 2, 1999, because of rotator cuff surgery.