Notes: Dempsey moves to first
Triple-A pitching coach McCall to take over bullpen spot
BALTIMORE -- Rick Dempsey's brief tenure as the Orioles' bullpen coach came to an abrupt end Wednesday when the team reassigned first-base coach Dave Cash, moved Dempsey to the first base coaching box and announced that Triple-A pitching coach Larry McCall would take over Dempsey's spot in the bullpen.
The series of coaching changes was precipitated by the organization's evaluation after 50 games, said executive vice president of baseball operations Mike Flanagan, and Cash was informed of the move Wednesday morning.
"It absolutely has nothing to do with David," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He's a great man and a great baseball guy. ... We're constantly in a mode to find the right combination to get things the way we want him. We're going to bring Larry McCall up, put him in the bullpen and give [pitching coach Leo Mazzone] the extra guy who's worked with the kids for 17 years in this organization and done a great job."
Because the Orioles have been integrating young pitchers like right-handers Chris Ray, Sendy Rleal and Chris Britton and left-hander Kurt Birkens into relief roles, Flanagan and vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette opted for a more pitching-focused coaching approach that would complement Mazzone's efforts.
"We thought the move would strengthen us in a couple of different areas," Duquette said. "We thought it would strengthen us in the bullpen, and Demper has experience at first base. He's done a good job there in the past."
Ottawa was the ninth different team in the system with which McCall has worked. Last season, McCall won the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award, named for the former Orioles Major and Minor League manager who is regarded as the creator of the "Oriole Way."
"When we've had a need, Larry's been there," Flanagan said. "I think this may be a little overdue."
Dempsey had served as the team's first base coach for more than 3 1/2 seasons until Perlozzo was named interim manager last August. At that point, Dempsey was named third base coach. After the Orioles reassigned the late Elrod Hendricks from his role as bullpen coach in the offseason, Dempsey accepted Perlozzo's offer to succeed Hendricks.
"I've enjoyed what we were getting accomplished in the bullpen. ... This is a refreshing group. I was getting back to warming up pitchers and catching bullpen sessions. There's no better place to evaluate pitching than from behind home plate," Dempsey said.
Going back to coach first base, he added, really isn't much of a change.
"The big difference is that there is more energy -- you're seeing the guys come off the field every inning -- and I'll be more involved in the offense. It's a lot of fun, but I have fun wherever I am, whatever my role is," Dempsey said.
Cash, in his 10th season in the organization, was in his first season on the Major League staff. Cash spent 8 1/2 years as a Minor League manager before joining Perlozzo's staff in August. This is the second time Cash has been reassigned in the middle of the season; in 2002, he was replaced at midseason as manager of Double-A Bowie.
The move came on the same day that the Orioles drafted Cash's son, Dave, in the 40th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. The younger Cash went to the University of Florida.
"Certainly [Cash] was disappointed and he understands. He told me he'll continue to work hard and I told him he did a good job for us," Perlozzo said.
Flanagan said Cash asked for a couple of weeks to ponder the Orioles' offer of another job in the organization. Flanagan hopes Cash will agree to work with one of the team's short-season Class A affiliates -- Bluefield of the Appalachian League or Aberdeen of the New York Penn League -- to work with infield prospects.
McCall will join the Orioles on Thursday and begin his new role. Bullpen catchers Sam Snider and Orlando Gomez served in that capacity Wednesday night.
Can you hear me? Second baseman Brian Roberts singled up the middle in his first at-bat Wednesday.
Mired in an 0-for-19 slump over his past five games that has lowered his average to .290, Roberts turned to modern technology to blunt any ideas Perlozzo may have had about giving him a rest.
Just after midnight, the manager got a text message from Roberts on his cell phone.
"Totally out of the clear, blue sky. 'Not to worry, I'll be fine. I'm not tired. I promise you I'm going to help you soon,'" Perlozzo said. "I text-messaged him back and said, "'Thanks, I can sleep now.'"
Perlozzo had considered giving Roberts a day off Monday when the four-game series against Toronto started, but Roberts assured the manager he was fine.
"Everyone struggles a little bit. The only reason I'd give him a day off is if his elbow or his groin or something is bothering him again," Perlozzo said.
Wait and see: News that right-hander Jason Grimsley, who spent parts of the 2004 and '05 seasons with the Orioles, has been released at his request by the Diamondbacks after federal investigators searched his Scottsdale, Ariz., home as part of a steroids investigation, caught Perlozzo by surprise.
"I don't know a whole lot about that. It doesn't sound like it's something we want to hear again," Perlozzo said. "I don't know enough about it to be able to answer questions."
Told that Grimsley had reportedly provided investigators with a list of former teammates who had used the illegal drugs, Perlozzo said the news would not be a distraction -- with one caveat.
"I don't think so, unless he names some people who are on this team ... and there's some validity to it," Perlozzo said. "We'll get through whatever it is. It's one of those things that comes and goes. And the sooner it goes, the better off we all are."
Coming up: The Orioles close out a four-game series against the Blue Jays and a 10-game homestand, their longest of the season, with a 7:05 p.m. ET game Thursday. Rookie left-hander Adam Loewen (0-0, 7.45 ERA) faces right-hander Roy Halladay (7-1, 2.86 ERA).
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.