FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Facing the possibility of being without nearly half of their projected roster for at least part of the World Baseball Classic, the Orioles have made a formal request asking Major League Baseball to reconsider the number of their players who will participate in March's inaugural tournament.
Twelve Orioles - 10 from this year's projected 25-man roster - are slated for the WBC. That group includes starting pitchers Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera, Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen and star position players Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora and Ramon Hernandez.
Javy Lopez, who is trying to switch from catcher to first base, and Luis Matos, who is battling for the starting center-field job, are also on WBC rosters, as are reserve catcher Geronimo Gil and minor league pitchers Adam Loewen and John Stephens.
The Orioles are most concerned about the absence of their four starting pitchers, a club official said, and are "hopeful" some relief will be granted. The request was made last month, and there is no timetable for an answer.
WBC rules prohibit organizations from losing more than 14 players - or more than 10 that were on 25-man rosters and disabled lists on Aug. 31, 2005 - without the permission of that club.
Since the Orioles are losing a dozen players - and 10 that fit the 25-man roster parameter - they technically don't qualify for an exception, a baseball official said. But the regulations allow the Classic to deny participation to a player if it would create an "undue hardship" for the team. The example stated in the rules includes "too many starting pitchers, too many catchers, etc., participating in the tournament, collectively."
An official request must be made in a letter to the World Baseball Classic Inc., a baseball subsidiary that includes representatives of baseball, its players union and the International Baseball Federation.
Kevin Millar's first day in Orioles camp didn't exactly start smoothly. His plane out of Houston was canceled and he arrived here without luggage. He had to borrow a bat from Gil and a glove from David Newhan. Instead of spikes, he had to wear a new pair of Puma sneakers fresh out of the box from his sponsor. Still, the team's new outfielder/first baseman was undeterred.
"I have no underwear, no spikes, no gloves," said Millar, who left Boston as a free agent and signed a one-year deal with the Orioles. "But I'm here. I made it."
Millar is going from a team that made three straight playoff appearances (including a World Series championship) in a city that turned Millar and his teammates into "rock stars" to a franchise with shrinking attendance and eight consecutive losing seasons. Yet Millar said he sees no reason why Baltimore and its fans can't enjoy Boston-like success.
"Just because you don't have 50 television crews around you all the time doesn't mean this team can't generate that enthusiasm," he said. "Our job is to do that by winning baseball games, playing hard every day and doing the right things on the baseball field. I think we can do that."
Penn's shoulder sore
Right-hander Hayden Penn, who has a chance to make the team, was held back from throwing yesterday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder Sunday. Both he and manager Sam Perlozzo said they didn't think it was serious, but it was best to give the 21-year-old prospect a brief break. He had thrown three days in a row.
"I think it is a case of some of the young kids wanting to do too much too quick to impress their pitching coach," Perlozzo said.
T. Williams waits
Reliever Todd Williams, who left Saturday's workout with a sore right shoulder, continues to be shelved.
"I think Todd is going to be a little ways away yet. We're going to keep him shut down until [the shoulder] gets calmed down," Perlozzo said. "It doesn't seem to be a real serious thing."