Strained oblique to cost Bedard start in Boston

The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles were able to divert their attention from their beleaguered bullpen yesterday, but only so they could attempt to patch up their rotation.

The club still has problems with its pitching staff. They've just expanded.

Erik Bedard won't make Saturday's start in Boston because of a strained right oblique muscle. Rookie Garrett Olson will rejoin the team after a brief stint at Rookie-level Bluefield to take Bedard's turn.

"He has marked improvement today," manager Dave Trembley said, "but I'm going to skip him a start."

Bedard has been bothered by the injury for about four weeks, but he didn't tell anyone. His performance on the mound wasn't affected until his last start against the Minnesota Twins, when he allowed six runs and walked five batters in six innings for his first loss in almost two months.

"In between innings, it would get tight and I was trying to stretch it. It just wouldn't get loose," he said. "We might as well take one start to try to get it better and finish the year strong."

The Orioles remain optimistic that Bedard won't miss more than one turn, but there are no guarantees with a strained oblique. The injury sent catcher Ramon Hernandez to the disabled list before Opening Night, and twice sidelined outfield prospect Nolan Reimold.

"I have no idea," said Bedard, who's 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA and leads the majors with 221 strikeouts. "It's day-to-day right now."

Said Trembley: "That's a new word this year - oblique. A few years ago, I think it was hamate bone. Now it seems oblique is the one that keeps coming up. You know, I took anatomy and physiology in 1971, but I haven't looked at the books lately."

Jim Duquette, vice president of baseball operations, said the trainer's report indicates that the injury isn't serious.

"We're hopeful that he'll make his next start," Duquette said.

Olson is 1-2 with a 7.33 ERA in five starts with the Orioles. He was optioned to Bluefield when the Orioles recalled Radhames Liz from Bowie.

Liz will start tomorrow night's series opener in Boston.

"Really, the way we look at it is, it's a good opportunity to take a look at our young pitching in a hostile environment," Duquette said. "Liz and Olson are two guys that we think are going to factor heavily into our plans next year. I look forward to seeing how they're going to respond in that ballpark."

Hoey's confidence down

Trembley noticed after Tuesday's game that reliever Jim Hoey kept pacing back and forth in front of his office door.

"When that happens," Trembley said, "it usually means they want to talk to you."

Aware that Hoey was upset after surrendering a 6-3 lead in the eighth inning, Trembley invited him inside and closed the door.

After six consecutive scoreless appearances, Hoey has allowed 10 earned runs in his past 1 2/3 innings. Perhaps more disturbing, he acknowledged later that he lacked confidence and became nervous.

"I don't think that's any different than any other young guy who's come to the big leagues and all of a sudden has dealt with failure, and he's struggling with it," Trembley said. "But it's not going to change what I think of him. It's not going to change the approach I take toward him.

"I may back off him a little bit and not bring him in in the middle of an inning with a guy on third and one out and the No. 4 hitter up. I'd like to allow him to get a little bit of confidence, and I think by him doing that, it might relax him a little bit."

O's broadcast shift

Last night's game was the first of 10 airing on 102.7 JACK-FM instead of the club's flagship station, although WHFS-FM (105.7) picked up the broadcast after the hourlong Ralph Friedgen Show.

The change in stations was made because 105.7 has contractual agreements with the University of Maryland to air its football programming.

Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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