ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Intent on shoring up his struggling bullpen, manager Dave Trembley said yesterday that he will abandon the closer-by-committee approach and primarily use Danys Baez to save games.
Jamie Walker has four saves and Chad Bradford has one since Chris Ray went on the disabled list with a sprained right elbow. However, using Walker and Bradford later in games has put more pressure on the Orioles' middle relief corps, which was beaten on consecutive days in Boston as John Parrish took the loss on Saturday and Rob Bell was saddled with it Sunday.
Trembley said he'll try to get back to using Walker and Bradford in situational roles in the seventh and eighth innings while allowing Baez to be the main guy in the ninth. Baez got his first save of the season last night, allowing one walk and no hits in a scoreless ninth against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"I'm afraid if I kept doing that, I'm going to stretch them too thin, and what happens is I end up putting Bell in a situation where he's not real comfortable," Trembley said. "I think guys are better off being where they're supposed to be more times than not. You start putting guys in different places, that's not good. What we've been saying all along is stay with the plan and communicate with your people."
Trembley said he chose Baez mostly because he has the most experience in the closer's role. Baez has 112 saves in his career. Though Baez entered last night with a 5.70 ERA, he has pitched much better since returning from the disabled list. He's pitched perfect innings in five of eight appearances since being activated.
"He's closed games before," Trembley said. "He's got the most experience, and I think it helps the rest of the club that way if more times than not, we can get Walker and Bradford back to what they're supposed to be doing. They've done a great job for us."
According to two league sources, the Orioles have called the Cleveland Indians to inquire about right-handed reliever Fernando Cabrera, who was designated for assignment Wednesday.
Cabrera, 25, was 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 appearances when he was designated. In 94 career appearances spanning parts of four major league seasons, Cabrera is 6-6 with a 4.35 ERA.
The Indians have 10 days to trade him, place him on waivers or send him outright to the minors.
Birkins up, Doyne down
The Orioles also made a roster move in their bullpen, recalling left-hander Kurt Birkins and optioning Cory Doyne to Triple-A Norfolk. Doyne led the International League with 29 saves when he was recalled July 25, but he allowed six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in his second stint with the Orioles.
This is the fourth recall this season for Birkins, who is 0-1 with a 10.00 ERA in four appearances for the Orioles this season. Birkins was starting for Triple-A Norfolk, where he was 6-4 with a 3.34 ERA. Trembley said he'll be used as a swing man in the bullpen.
"That's fine by me, as long as I get to wear that uniform," said Birkins, who was a revelation for the Orioles when he went 5-2 with a 4.94 ERA in 35 games in 2006.
In his first extensive action since spraining his right foot July 1, third baseman Melvin Mora went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run, in a rehabilitation stint with the Orioles' Gulf Coast League team yesterday. Mora will play there again today, and if it all goes well, he could return to the lineup in tomorrow's series finale.
"He took 15 minutes of ground balls after the game and did his conditioning," Trembley said. "He reported no discomfort, no pain. That's great."
Utility player Freddie Bynum (strained left hamstring) was scheduled to start a rehab stint last weekend but was scratched after reporting soreness. He started at shortstop and led off for Single-A Frederick last night and went 1-for-2 and scored twice in an 8-6 loss.
Ray, who is from this area, joined his teammates at Tropicana Field. He said treatment on his elbow has been going well, but he's still not sure when he'll start throwing again. He's expected to be out until some time in September.