Reliever Baez done for 2007, possibly 2008

The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO -- Orioles reliever Danys Baez will get a second opinion after a magnetic resonance imaging taken Friday confirmed a partial tear in his right elbow, an injury that ends his disappointing 2007 season and could force him to miss parts if not all of next season.

Baez, whose season will end with an 0-6 record, a 6.44 ERA and three saves in 53 games, will decide shortly whether he'll try to rehabilitate the injury and be ready for spring training or have the surgery done and be out for an extended period. The worst-case scenario is that he would be out the entire 2008 season.

"The injury is significant, but he's getting a second opinion," said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. "We don't know which way it's going to go yet. We're just trying to sort it out."

It's the latest blow for an Orioles team that has been crushed by injuries, specifically on its pitching staff. Closer Chris Ray will be out for most if not all of next season after he had ligament transplant surgery on his right elbow. Starters Adam Loewen (stress fracture in left elbow) and Kris Benson (torn right labrum) also have had season-ending surgeries, and starters Erik Bedard (strained right oblique) and Jaret Wright (right shoulder soreness) have been shut down.

"Obviously, it's been more than what we'd ever expect realistically to happen, not just for the guys individually, but for the club collectively," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "You just hope it gets better."

Baez, a 30-year-old right-hander who has spent seven seasons in the bullpen and has 114 career saves, was signed in November to be the Orioles' top setup man and insurance for Ray. The Orioles gave him a three-year, $19 million deal, a contract that was heavily criticized around baseball because Baez was coming off a season in which he had a 4.53 ERA in stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves and battled injuries throughout.

Baez silenced the critics somewhat with a 2.92 ERA in 13 April appearances. But he fell apart, going 0-4 with a 9.53 ERA in 13 games in May and 0-0 with an 8.44 ERA in five appearances in June before he was sent to the disabled list for nearly a month with a strained right forearm.

Since his return from the DL, Baez allowed runs in 10 of 22 outings, being used in several of them as the team's closer. In his last outing, Baez gave up two earned runs while allowing three walks and two hits in 1 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels.

He was the most expensive of the Orioles' four bullpen additions that cost them approximately $42 million this offseason. But with the dire struggles of the bullpen this year, along with the injuries to Ray and Baez, finding bullpen help is again on the Orioles' offseason priority list.

"You have to know how long you'll be without [Baez] if at all," MacPhail said. "But clearly, the bullpen is an area that is going to require attention in the offseason, either way."

Guthrie, Olson, too?

It's also becoming less and less likely that rookies Jeremy Guthrie (strained left oblique) and Garrett Olson (left forearm tightness) will start again this season. Guthrie played catch Friday for the first time since suffering the injury and acknowledged yesterday that he still feels pain.

Guthrie remains optimistic he'll pitch again this season, though Trembley is not so sure. "His outlook is admirable, but he may be a little bit ahead of himself," Trembley said. "The will and desire to go out there is tremendous, but the practicality of it is another thing."

Olson, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 6, hasn't gotten clearance from team doctors to start throwing again. The club is getting to the point where it will have to consider shutting him down for the season.

"I would say that he's getting close to that," Trembley said.

Melvin Mora (lower back tightness) and Corey Patterson (sprained left ankle) remained out of the lineup, but Mora could return today.

Cabrera awaiting word on appeal

Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera said he still hasn't heard from the commissioner's office on when his appeal of his six-game suspension for throwing behind Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be heard.

It will likely happen early this week while the Orioles are in New York for a three-game series against the Yankees. The club expects Cabrera to start tomorrow.

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