Reliever Burres confident he'll return to form

The Baltimore Sun

Approached by a reporter yesterday to discuss the rough stretch he's experiencing, Orioles pitcher Brian Burres chuckled and offered his appreciation for the failed attempt at being tactful.

Rough stretch? That's an understatement for a guy who had allowed runs in six straight outings entering last night, and 28 earned runs in his past 18 2/3 innings.

"I've been kind of wild, getting behind some guys," he said. "When I'm in the strike zone, it's up. I need to get my targets lower, aim a little lower and throw it down there. Just get ahead a little more and I think everything will be all right."

Burres' ERA has swelled to 5.92 in 97 1/3 innings. He surrendered two home runs Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and four runs overall in three innings.

In the historic 30-3 loss to the Texas Rangers, Burres allowed eight runs and eight hits in two-thirds of an inning. His last decision came Aug. 4 against Tampa Bay, when he gave up six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.

"My arm feels good," he said. "It's just little things like the ball not being down in the zone. Being 2-0 isn't a very fun position to pitch in all the time."

Burres began the year in the bullpen, made 13 starts and returned to his relief role. He said the changes haven't affected his pitching.

"I'm used to that," he said. "That's not an issue at all. I just think if I correct a couple little things, I'll be back on track and help us try to win some games over this last part of the season."

Short season for Wright

Jaret Wright has returned to his California home and won't pitch over the final month of the season, likely ending his Orioles career after three April starts.

The Orioles recalled Wright from his injury rehabilitation assignment and returned him to the 60-day disabled list. He has been bothered by a sore shoulder, and the club decided he wasn't ready to pitch for them. One other factor worked against Wright: The Orioles would have had to clear a spot for him on the 40-man roster.

Wright can become a free agent after the season. The Orioles obtained him from the New York Yankees on Nov. 12 for reliever Chris Britton.

No timetable for Bedard

Though the pain in his right side has subsided a bit, Erik Bedard still isn't sure when he'll pitch again.

Bedard said he's feeling "a little better, but not drastically better." The Orioles won't push him, and Bedard isn't going to rush back to the mound simply to enhance his Cy Young Award chances or pad his strikeout total, which leads the majors.

"You can look at it both ways," he said. "On one side, I'd love to have a few more starts the rest of the season. But another side is like, what's the point of trying to come back faster and reaggravate it?"

The Orioles haven't discussed shutting down Bedard, but the idea could gain momentum.

"I haven't talked to our medical people about that, but that's a very good point," manager Dave Trembley said. "I don't know how long it would take for him to start resuming a throwing program and being able to pitch. There comes a point in time where common sense has to take over."

Asked how upset he'd be if his season ended prematurely, Bedard said: "It wouldn't frustrate me. Even if I do pitch, I'd have what, one or two starts? ... You get hurt and you can't pitch and you don't win anything. What are you going to do? I don't lose sleep over it."

A magnetic resonance imaging taken earlier this week confirmed the strained oblique.

Around the horn

The Orioles won't renew the contracts of minor league pitching coordinator Doc Watson and roving infield/base-running instructor Tom Lawless. ... The Orioles wore replica uniforms of the 1932 Baltimore Black Sox Negro leagues team to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its East-West League championship.

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