Notes: O's designate Shuey
Club recalls lefty Birkins to replace veteran righty
BALTIMORE -- Paul Shuey's comeback from a premature retirement reached a melancholy coda Tuesday, when the Orioles designated the veteran for assignment and recalled Kurt Birkins from Triple-A Norfolk. Shuey, who has had four operations on his right hip in an attempt to keep playing, left Camden Yards before he could be reached for comment.
"It hurt to tell him that he was done with us, to be honest with you," said manager Dave Trembley. "He sucked up some innings for us and stayed out there in some situations because we didn't want to put other guys out there when games were so one-sided. ... He's a person that's a real pro, and obviously his numbers weren't what he wanted or we wanted.
"That's the bad part about baseball -- you let good guys go sometimes."
Shuey said as recently as last week he's not contemplating retirement and he thinks he has at least one additional good year in his 36-year-old body. The reliever's hip condition kept him out of the big leagues from 2004-06, and it got so bad at one point that he had trouble walking without a limp, picking up his kids and playing in his church softball league.
That all changed in July 2006, thanks to a radical hip resurfacing procedure that was unapproved in the United States at the time. Shuey traveled to Canada to take a chance at rejuvenating his life and his career, and the operation -- which covered the ball of his hip joint in a Swiss metal -- allowed him to return to the mound without pain.
The rejuvenated Shuey touched 90 mph at times, but he had trouble keeping his windup consistent. With some more time, he thought he could iron those things out and be productive in the big leagues. Shuey may still harbor those hopes, but he was realistic enough to know that his 9.82 ERA and inability to pitch every other day were serious impediments.
"This has been an abbreviated offseason," Shuey said last week after one of the most difficult outings of his career. "I'm trying to not pile myself up with pressure, as far as what I need to do to perform right now. I want to do well every time I go out, but instead of just really crushing myself, I say, 'Look, you're still coming back from this.'"
Now that he's been designated, the Orioles have 10 days to trade, release or re-assign him. It's unlikely he'll be demoted to Norfolk, though, because the Tides' season ends in the beginning of next week. Shuey may well be looking for another organization to invite him to Spring Training, and he understood he got a fair shot in Baltimore.
"He told me he expected it," Trembley said of Shuey, who appeared in 25 games for the Orioles. "He was very professional. He told me he thought it was best for the team and he appreciated the opportunity. He's a great guy."
Wright turn: Jaret Wright pitched a scoreless inning for Double-A Bowie over the weekend and could be close to returning to the active roster. The erstwhile starter has been on the disabled list since late April with a case of soreness in his right shoulder, but he'd like to take his best shot at pitching in relief for the rest of the season.
"I think we're going to try to figure that out today -- whether I throw again, throw on the side or go straight to the mound," said Wright, who has had two shoulder surgeries. "Right now, I don't know. I'm going to talk to the trainers and see how they feel about both scenarios. I trust their opinion. I just need more information."
Wright, who used to throw in the high 90s, is making do with a vastly reduced repertoire. The right-hander said he's barely cracking 90 mph these days, but he also said he doesn't necessarily need velocity to get people out.
"I don't care. If it's around 90 and it doesn't hurt, I can deal with that," he said. "I haven't been throwing as hard as I used to for a while. It's been transitional for me, trying to pick spots and extend your career."
Trembley wouldn't rule anything out, but he said Wright has missed too much time to come back so soon.
"He threw one inning. Obviously, he'd have to throw again," the manager said. "I think he'd at least have to throw a couple of more times. ... He'd have to get stretched out at some point in time, even if he comes back here and pitches out of the bullpen."
For starters: The Orioles still are undecided on whether Radhames Liz will start again next week, and they're also unsure as to whether Erik Bedard will start on Friday or Saturday. Friday would keep the southpaw on normal rest, and it also would allow the O's to recall Garrett Olson from Class A Bluefield without sending Liz back to the Minor Leagues.
Trembley said Liz won't be pitching out of the bullpen -- for now -- and he'll come to a decision on the weekend rotation soon. Basically, it boils down to whether the Orioles want to look at Liz or Olson more down the stretch. When asked directly if there are any roster moves coming before roster expansion, Trembley issued a telling response.
"We could do something with Olson," he said. "Everybody is probably wondering the same thing, 'What am I going to do with Olson?' I don't know yet. I would think if we were going to do something, it will happen while we're home."
Quotable: "I didn't like what happened last week. ... The day off doesn't make everything better. It doesn't take away what happened. Just forget about it and move forward." -- Trembley, on his team's six-game losing streak
Coming up: The Orioles and Devil Rays will play again Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET, and veteran Steve Trachsel (6-8, 4.61 ERA) will face off against Tampa Bay's James Shields (10-8, 4.09). Trachsel took a loss against Texas in his last outing.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.