His playing time lets Millar return for 2008 season

The Baltimore Sun

Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar has said all year that he'd like to come back here and play in 2008.

It looks as if he has gotten his wish.

Last night Millar, who will turn 36 this month, reached 475 plate appearances for the season, automatically triggering a $2.75 million vesting option for 2008.

"When you sign a vesting deal, you expect it to vest as a player," said Millar, who was batting .261 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs heading into last night. "Knock on wood, you hope it's a healthy situation and one when you do vest in a situation like this because you deserve it."

Millar was re-signed last offseason to a one-year, $2.75 million deal with the vesting option and incentives. He has already made an additional $200,000 for reaching 400 and 450 plate appearances and will make an additional $100,000 when he plays his next game - his 120th for the Orioles this year.

Despite the team's recent woes and pending 10th-straight losing season, Millar said he wants to be part of the Orioles' future.

"As a player, part of this 25-man roster, I'm as responsible as anybody else in this locker room," he said. "This offseason, you have to get in the best shape you possibly can - I think there's a lot of guys that need to do that in this clubhouse - and understand that you have to be ready to play baseball at the major league level.

"I think we all have to want to come back here. You should be embarrassed. You should hurt from what's gone on here the last couple of weeks. You've got to feel the pain."

Ray sighting

Orioles closer Chris Ray, who is recovering from elbow-ligament replacement surgery in mid-August, visited the clubhouse yesterday and said he hopes to pitch in the big leagues sometime next season.

"You don't want to rush it, you don't want to come back too soon," said Ray, who was wearing a restrictive brace on his right arm. "I think I'd like to be able to come back and pitch - even if it is just a couple appearances - next year. I'm sure I'll be doing some rehab appearances in the minor leagues, but I'd like to finish the year at the big league level."

"Everything is going on schedule," he said, and he hopes to be able to start throwing a baseball in December.

It's the first time Ray, 25, has been on the disabled list in his five-year professional career.

"It definitely was a disappointment. You never want to have a surgery like this and miss over a year of playing time," said Ray, who was 5-6 with a 4.43 ERA and 16 saves. "It's hard to sit back and watch your teammates when you can't do anything."

Olson to miss a turn

Rookie left-hander Garrett Olson's left forearm tightness isn't serious, but it will keep him from making his next start, which would have come against the Los Angeles Angels.

"We'll take the course of being conservative and cautious," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I just think it's best he doesn't make his next start."

Trembley said he likely would choose between relievers Rob Bell, Kurt Birkins and Brian Burres to make the spot start. It depended, he said, on who would be available after the Boston series, which concludes tomorrow.

Olson, who is 1-3 with a 7.79 ERA in seven games, left Thursday's game in the fourth inning. He received treatment yesterday and hopes to play light catch today.

Patterson out

Center fielder Corey Patterson, who was a late scratch Thursday because of a sprained left ankle, was out of the lineup yesterday and could miss the rest of the Boston series.

While chasing a home run Wednesday night at Tampa Bay, Patterson said, he got his feet tangled and rolled the ankle. It's been sore since, and he hasn't attempted to run.

"It's day-to-day, but it feels a lot better than [Thursday]," Patterson said. "So I imagine it won't take too much longer."

Tike Redman started in center field last night.

Santos picked up; Knott designated

The Orioles purchased the contract of right-handed reliever Victor Santos yesterday and designated outfielder Jon Knott for assignment.

Santos, 30, was 1-4 with a 5.14 ERA in 32 relief appearances for the Cincinnati Reds this year. He has pitched in parts of seven major league seasons, compiling a 23-46 record and a 5.14 ERA. He is expected to report today.

Knott, 29, played in seven games with the Orioles, batting .214 with one homer in 14 at-bats. He batted .250 with 13 homers at Triple-A Norfolk.

Around the horn

Trembley said he might rest slumping second baseman Brian Roberts tomorrow, so that he can have two consecutive days off. ... Trembley said that before the Boston series ends, he hopes to know whether ace Erik Bedard (oblique) will pitch again this season. ... The Johns Hopkins University's 2007 NCAA Division I lacrosse national champions were honored before last night's game. Coach Dave Pietramala threw out the first pitch. ... Sendy Rleal cleared waivers and was assigned to Double-A Bowie.


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