A day after watching reliever Lance Cormier serve up a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning, Orioles manager Dave Trembley said yesterday that he was done holding open auditions to fill Matt Albers' role.
With Albers out until at least late August with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Trembley will establish hard-throwing right-hander Dennis Sarfate as the team's primary bridge in the sixth and seventh innings to top setup man Jim Johnson and closer George Sherrill.
"Sarfate is probably the best one right now," Trembley said. "You're going to have to live with some streaks of him walking people, but stuffwise he's probably got the best stuff to come in there [against] the middle of the lineup."
Sarfate is 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 38 appearances. He has walked 34 batters in 39 2/3 innings; however, he has been better recently, not allowing a run in seven of nine appearances.
"If I can just go in there with poise and act like I belong here instead of trying to show off or make it a tryout, then I'm going to be successful," Sarfate said. "I tweaked a little something the other day in my mechanics where I think maybe I was standing too straight up. I just got more aggressive. Hopefully, I can step in and do the job like Matt Albers did it."
Albers posted a 3.49 ERA in 28 appearances before going on the disabled list. With him out, Trembley used Ryan Bukvich, Adam Loewen, Chad Bradford and Cormier in that role with mostly negative results. In four of their past six losses, the Orioles have led after the fifth inning.
"What we need to do is just return the team to some sense of order in the bullpen, knowing that Albers is not going to be here," Trembley said. "I think I need to get off the tryout type of method in the bullpen and just give it to somebody and say, 'Hey, run with it.' I will stay away from getting fooled or mesmerized by somebody that looks like they have a hot hand. I think you have to go with what brought you to the dance."
Trembley acknowledged that he has tried to stay away from using Bradford regularly because the veteran reliever is struggling with all sorts of ailments. Bradford pitched a scoreless inning yesterday.
"This guy is being held together by Scotch tape and Band-Aids," Trembley said.
Trembley said he expects shortstop Alex Cintron (strained hamstring) to go on a rehabilitation assignment after the All-Star break. ... Reliever Jamie Walker (left elbow inflammation) might not be available until the first series after the break.
Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora was held out of the starting lineup yesterday, and Trembley said he'll continue to sit some veterans to keep them fresh for later in the season.
"You see some of these guys after games and what they look like with ice and wrapped up and this and that," Trembley said. "We're not even at 100 games yet, and you got to give the other guys an opportunity to play."
Before yesterday's game, the Orioles, second baseman Brian Roberts and the family of Shannon Obaker, the Orioles' director of community outreach who died from cancer last year at age 29, presented a $50,000 check to representatives from the University of Maryland Medical Center to establish Shannon's Fund. The fund will provide financial assistance to hospital patients and their families.
"She was very important to me," Roberts said. "She shared a passion for reaching out to other people. To be able to give back just a little bit for what she gave me, it's an honor and something very special for me."