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Two years later, Leicester is set for second start

The Baltimore Sun

Orioles pitcher Jon Leicester remembers the exact date of his last major league start.

You don't easily forget the first one.

It has taken two years for Leicester to get another second chance in a rotation. He'll start Saturday's game against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards, taking the spot that went to Kurt Birkins earlier this week.

Leicester has made three relief appearances since the Orioles purchased his contract from Triple-A Norfolk last Thursday, most recently pitching a scoreless eighth inning Tuesday. He retired all four batters he faced Sunday at Fenway Park.

"The last couple weeks have been kind of new to me," he said. "This is more good news, I guess. I get a chance to show myself a little bit more."

Leicester was 3-3 with a 2.22 ERA in 13 games, including 11 starts, at Norfolk. He appeared in one game with the Orioles this season, allowing four runs in 1 2/3 innings in a May 12 loss to the Red Sox before going on the disabled list with a posterior deltoid strain.

The Orioles eventually activated him, designated him for assignment and outrighted him to Norfolk after he cleared waivers.

Bell out, then in

Pitcher Rob Bell's departure from the Orioles' organization didn't last long. It's almost as though he never left.

Bell cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, enabling the Orioles to purchase his contract yesterday and make him the fifth addition to this month's expanded roster.

Rejoining the Orioles was a simple process for Bell, who lives in Tampa. He watched the first two games of this series at home, waiting for his return to become official.

"My bags were packed and I was waiting with bated breath," he said.

Bell signed as a minor league free agent in November and went 3-3 with a 6.49 ERA in 21 games. He posted a 6.49 ERA in his last 10 appearances, though seven of the 25 earned runs he allowed in 34 2/3 innings came in the 30-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.

Needing a fresh arm in the bullpen, the Orioles designated Bell for assignment Aug. 30 and purchased Leicester's contract. Now, they're teammates again.

To make room for Bell on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated Double-A Bowie reliever Sendy Rleal for assignment.

In a separate transaction, reliever Paul Shuey cleared waivers and was given his outright release.

Walker recognized

Reliever Jamie Walker is the Orioles' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award that's given annually to a player who combines outstanding skills on the field with devoted community work.

Most of Walker's charitable work involves military veterans and underprivileged children. He visits wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and donates money to the U.S. Army Emergency Relief Fund. Walker also hosts soldiers in a luxury box at Camden Yards.

"I'm nowhere near the man Roberto Clemente was, that's for sure, but it means a lot to me," Walker said.

"I know a little bit about Roberto Clemente. He's a Hall of Fame baseball player who got killed helping people. The thing that makes that award special is when I see the eyes of the soldiers when they come out to Camden Yards. They get away from it for one day and I think that's special. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be able to play baseball.

"Whenever you see these soldiers, I try to be myself and joke with them. They always say, 'Thank you,' and I say, 'Hell no, thank you. This is the least I can do. I'm getting to play baseball for a living. I'm not dodging bullets.' We are at war. People forget that. And we'll probably be at war for a long time."

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