Johnson returns; rookie Olson sent to Bluefield

The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles needed a long reliever for their bullpen last night, so they put Jim Johnson on a plane to Baltimore and Garrett Olson on hold.

Johnson made one appearance for the Orioles earlier this season, allowing two earned runs in two innings in an April 25 game against the Boston Red Sox.

Olson is 1-2 with a 7.33 ERA and 21 strikeouts in five starts with the Orioles covering 23 1/3 innings. He went five innings in Game 2 of Wednesday's doubleheader, allowing six runs and throwing 107 pitches.

The Orioles optioned Olson to Rookie-level Bluefield of the Appalachian League, where he'll throw a few bullpen sessions and wait to be recalled. They decided against sending him back to Triple-A Norfolk because the Tides' season doesn't end until Sept. 3.

Because Bluefield's last game is Wednesday, the Orioles could bring back Olson sooner. An optioned player must stay in the minors for 10 days unless he's replacing an injured player, or the affiliate's season concludes beforehand.

"Basically, the bullpen's spent right now, and I'm just kind of in limbo," said Olson, who could make one start before rejoining the Orioles. "I'm the fifth starter, and with the off day on Monday, I'm just going to be sitting here the next four days. They needed somebody to come up."

Manager Dave Trembley said he wants Olson to concentrate on being "a little taller" on the mound, rather than dropping down so much and getting underneath his pitches. He recommended that Olson cut down on his stride and regain command of his fastball, which he lost after leaving Norfolk.

"I would have loved to have kept him here so he could get his work in, but physically he has to go and report," Trembley said. "He'll just basically throw a sideline and get ready for when we need him again."

Johnson, 24, would have started for Norfolk tonight if the Orioles hadn't recalled him. He was 5-11 with a 3.99 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 24 games with the Tides.

"I'm just trying to help out where I can," he said.

It could be in the rotation Saturday because the Orioles need a starter. But they also will consider Brian Burres and Rob Bell.

Shuey not shellshocked

Paul Shuey seemed to make a full recovery from the beating he sustained in Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader, when he allowed nine runs in the last two innings to put his ERA at 9.49.

"I had one buddy call me and ask if I was even trying," Shuey said, smiling. "I said, 'Yeah, I really was.'"

Shuey was trying to prevent Trembley from having to use another reliever in a 30-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.

"It was the ugliest outing I've ever had," said Shuey, 36, who began his professional career in 1992. "I just tried to battle through it. And I actually feel pretty good today for going through that. I'm just happy at least the other guys didn't get penalized and we're in a good situation to succeed in the next game."

Shuey, who underwent hip surgery two years ago after retiring, said he's pain-free. "I feel good," he said. "The results are ugly."

Not so much that he's given up hope for 2008.

"I think there's another good year in me," he said.

Hale to hang them up

Unable to pitch again because of a shoulder injury, former No. 1 draft pick Beau Hale has returned to his Texas home and is expected to retire.

Hale, the 14th overall selection in 2000 out of the University of Texas, made 15 starts this season for Double-A Bowie, going 6-5 with a 5.15 ERA. He allowed 92 hits in 71 2/3 innings. The Orioles shut him down after a July 16-18 series in Altoona, and he drove to Texas on Wednesday.

"What a great kid. He gave everything he could," Bowie pitching coach Scott McGregor said. "He was at the point where the pain was waking him up again."

Hale never rose above Double-A and missed the 2003 and 2004 seasons after surgery on his shoulder. He suffered another tear this summer and was done for the season.

Hale joins the list of Orioles first-round and supplemental picks who didn't reach the majors, including Alvie Shepherd (1995), Mike Paradis (1999), Richard Stahl (1999), Josh Cenate (1999), Scott Rice (1999) and Chris Smith (2001).

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