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Ray's rehab advances with simulated game

The Baltimore Sun

Orioles reliever Chris Ray, recovering from ligament reconstruction in his right elbow, pitched a simulated game Wednesday after throwing two batting practice sessions earlier. But manager Dave Trembley indicated that Ray isn't close to appearing in a real game.

"He'll just continue his throwing program and mound progression," Trembley said. "He has not been slowed down."

Ray remains at the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla. His goal since spring training has been to rejoin the Orioles by late August or early September, though that might not be realistic.

It appears the Orioles are following a different timetable.

"That's Chris Ray's expectation. That's never been our expectation," Trembley said.

"My expectation is to take a conservative course of action, and if he were to join the club before this season is over, that's a bonus, but I'm not particularly counting on that. I would take more of a conservative approach and gear him toward pitching in the instructional league and get yourself ready for spring training. Obviously, if something changes and he's able to come here at the end of the season, that would be a real nice thing for everybody. But to be perfectly honest with you, that's not in my thought process at this time."

Cormier in rhythm

A slight adjustment in reliever Lance Cormier's delivery has made him a much different pitcher from the one who posted a 17.18 ERA in spring training and began the season in the minors.

Cormier has tossed six scoreless innings over his past two appearances. He held the Washington Nationals to one hit and a walk in four innings last Saturday to earn his first career save, and he retired all six Kansas City Royals he faced Thursday night.

"I felt like I was overthrowing the times before, so I backed my stride off, which allowed me to get out in front of the ball and allowed me to command the fastball, which wasn't there," said Cormier, who hasn't given up a run in seven of his past eight games. "That allowed me to find a better rhythm."

Trembley said Cormier has become more effective because the right-hander has tightened his breaking ball.

"He's shown the ability to throw his breaking ball to both right- and left-handed hitters for called strikes, and he has used his fastball to pitch down in the zone," Trembley said.

"I'm looking for somebody to step up to the plate and take the place of [Matt] Albers. I was kind of hoping we would have our starters in a position where I wouldn't need that type of a guy so often, but if so be, I don't have a problem with Cormier."

Around the horn

The Orioles have fired their national cross-checker, Alan Marr, for undisclosed reasons. The club would not comment on the matter beyond confirming his dismissal. Marr, a longtime scout, joined the organization in 2004. ... Brian Roberts was scratched from the lineup with an illness. Freddie Bynum replaced him atop the order, his first start since returning to the team from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday. ... Rule 5 pick Randor Bierd hasn't allowed a run or hit in three innings of his injury rehabilitation assignment at Single-A Frederick, walking two and striking out seven. He is expected to soon join Double-A Bowie's roster. ... Nick Markakis extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning double. ... Trembley said he will stay with 13 pitchers "until the starters show me they can go deeper in the game on a consistent basis." ... Trembley said he would consider batting Adam Jones second against some left-handers during the second half of the season. But for now, he prefers having Jones stay hot near the bottom of the order and not tamper with success.

Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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