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Poor start could be end of Olson's days in rotation

The Baltimore Sun

DETROIT - With each Orioles run that crossed the plate in their 16-8 rout of the Detroit Tigers yesterday, rookie left-hander Garrett Olson's outing drifted further and further to the background. But it surely will be remembered today when the Orioles discuss whether the rookie left-hander still belongs in the rotation.

Manager Dave Trembley didn't sound convinced yesterday after Olson managed to get just five outs, allowing five earned runs and four hits and walking three in the shortest outing of his career.

"It was disturbing for me to watch," Trembley said. "I'm a very patient person with players, and I'm very patient with young players, but we need to do something to get him on track and to help him. I'm sure he's just despondent. I'm sure there's no one that feels any worse than he does. That's unfortunate. I'm just glad the team did what they did to pick him up because something like this could be really difficult to bounce back from."

Olson has made 21 starts, going 8-6 with a 6.38 ERA. He ha allowed four earned runs or more in 10 of his past 13 starts and has not made it through the sixth inning in nine of those outings. In two of his past three outings, Olson has failed to log three innings.

Given 4-0 and 5-1 leads yesterday, he needed 63 pitches to get just five outs.

"I was just kind of rushing and trying to do too much, rather than just keeping it simple and making that one pitch that could have got me out of the inning," Olson said. "It's not easy here. There have been a lot of great pitchers that have failed numerous times and been able to rebound and figure it out. The trick is just finding something every day that is going to get you in the zone and make you consistent. That's just something I have to keep working at and discover."

Whether he is allowed to do that in the majors remains to be seen. With days off in each of the next three weeks, the Orioles have already decided to move Dennis Sarfate back to the bullpen and go with four starters. With Hayden Penn's shoulder problems, Double-A right-hander Bradley Bergesen appears to be the top candidate to join the rotation. He pitched yesterday and would be on turn.

"G.O. is a young pitcher," Orioles first baseman Aubrey Huff said. "He's going to go through ups and downs. I think the key for him is to throw strikes and not be afraid of the strike zone. He's got good enough stuff. He's just got to believe in it."

Who's it going to be?

The Orioles aren't sure whether their 50 millionth visitor to Camden Yards will walk through the turnstiles today or tomorrow, but they'll be ready when it happens.

In conjunction with the Maryland Lottery, the 50 millionth customer in Camden Yards' 16-year history will receive a $50,000 check as well as a pair of season tickets for the next five years and a commemorative Orioles jersey.

The park is 43,290 fans short of reaching the milestone, and with the world champion Boston Red Sox in town for a three-game series starting today, it's a near certainty it will be reached by tomorrow. A sellout would guarantee it happening today.

The Orioles will be monitoring the attendance electronically, and when it gets close they'll have representatives at each gate communicating via walkie-talkies. Because several gates will be opened simultaneously for fan convenience, the official 50 millionth visitor will be somewhat of a judgment call.

"The club does have some flexibility in that it is not technically a contest," communications director Greg Bader said. "It's more of a situation where we are awarding a door prize to an individual that happens to be walking in at the right time."

And so it's a good bet the winner won't be wearing a David Ortiz jersey.

"We are confident we will find an appropriate fan to represent the 50 million fans at the moment it happens," Bader said. "We are very confident that an Orioles fan will be able to win this prize."

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