The Orioles optioned reliever Rick Bauer to Triple-A Ottawa after last night's 13-3 loss to Tampa Bay, and it's quite possible he won't pitch another game for the team.
Bauer was given the news after allowing an unearned run and two hits in two-thirds of an inning. A corresponding roster move most likely will be announced today, with the Orioles adding another position player and reducing their staff to 12.
"I'm extremely surprised," said Bauer, who's 1-0 with a 6.11 ERA in 18 appearances. "The move probably shouldn't shock me with what's been going on this year. I probably shouldn't put it past them."
The Orioles were going to option Bauer last month before he went on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his elbow. They activated him on Saturday, and he was a candidate to make last night's start before the assignment went to John Parrish.
Manager Lee Mazzilli, pitching coach Ray Miller, executive vice president Jim Beattie and director of baseball administration Ed Kenney met with Bauer after the game.
"They said I'm the 13th guy, I can't pitch for this team, they didn't think I could pitch here at all and they're trying to get rid of me - to be almost word for word," Bauer said. "I like Baltimore, but I really don't have a choice. I don't get to make that decision.
"To flat-out hear I can't pitch here, that's kind of a joke because I've done it the past two or three years. Now all of a sudden, no? I had one horrible outing in Chicago. Minus that, and I'm probably one of the more effective guys on the team. But I guess that doesn't really count for anything."
Said Beattie: "I told Rick he had options and we're going to option him. We have a 13-man pitching staff and we're not going to carry 13 pitchers. I said, basically the guys who are in his position had outpitched him. ... If he's bitter about that, he's got other issues."
Bauer, who has been sent down three times this year, vowed to work hard in Ottawa rather than let the demotion affect his pitching.
"Deep down, I'm hurt because I busted my [butt] for this organization. I just want to pitch somewhere. I don't care anymore."
Plans for Cabrera
With only three games remaining before the All-Star break, the Orioles will move Daniel Cabrera into the bullpen this weekend and withhold his next start until the second half.
Cabrera has emerged as an unlikely staff ace at age 23, with no experience beyond Single-A until this season. Because of today's open date, his next turn wasn't scheduled until Sunday.
The Orioles are being cautious with Cabrera, who hasn't totaled more than 125 1/3 innings in a single season. He has thrown 70 2/3 this year with the Orioles, going 5-3 with a 3.18 ERA since being recalled from Double-A Bowie, where he had 27 1/3 innings.
"He's a young kid and hasn't pitched a lot," Mazzilli said. "He's probably not used to pitching this many innings."
Mazzilli has an idea how his rotation will unfold after the break, but he wouldn't reveal it yesterday. It's possible that Cabrera will start the first game next Thursday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Dave Borkowski, who carried a shutout into the ninth inning in Game 2 of Monday's doubleheader, also will go to the bullpen until the second half. Borkowski was supposed to make one start with the Orioles before returning to Triple-A Ottawa, but those plans changed after he picked up his first major league win since 1999.
Zito in orange?
The Orioles' clubhouse was stirring yesterday with rumors that the club may try to acquire former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito from the Oakland Athletics.
ESPN's Peter Gammons reported Tuesday that the A's would listen to offers for Zito, especially from teams that could offer an offensive-minded second baseman and a top setup man.
With two qualified second basemen (Jerry Hairston and Brian Roberts) and a host of relievers with high trade value (B.J. Ryan, Jorge Julio and Jason Grimsley) the Orioles would appear to be a logical fit. But major league officials pretty much shot down the possibility of the Orioles acquiring Zito yesterday.
According to those sources, Oakland has expressed interest in Hairston and Roberts while it looks to replace injured second baseman Mark Ellis.
But with Oakland fighting for the American League West lead, the A's want to keep their starting rotation intact and acquire a second baseman for prospects.
An Orioles official said they aren't looking to trade Hairston or Roberts for prospects. They want major league talent in return. So far, Oakland hasn't mentioned Zito as a possibility.
To make room for catcher Ken Huckaby on the 25-man roster, the Orioles outrighted outfielder Chad Mottola to Ottawa. Mottola, who cleared waivers and accepted the assignment, went 2-for-14 (.143) with a three-run homer in six games.