07/21/07 10:09 PM ET
Notes: Palmer praises Bedard
Penn completes recovery; Tejada heads back to Baltimore
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Palmer, the last Baltimore starter to throw a complete-game no-no, had a bird's-eye view for Erik Bedard's seven innings of one-hit ball on Friday night.
After witnessing that gem -- and several others just like it -- Palmer said there's virtually nothing standing in Bedard's way from having that type of outing every time he takes the ball.
"Nothing," he said Saturday. "Unless they put a contract out on him. That's about it."
All joking aside, the only hit-men Bedard has to worry about are standing in the batter's box, and the only contract talk he'll hear centers around the Orioles trying to lock him up to a long-term extension.
The southpaw has logged five games this season and nine in his career with 10 strikeouts or more, and only three Orioles -- Mike Mussina (26), Palmer (13) and Tom Phoebus (10) -- have more. Bedard leads the Majors in strikeouts (167) by a wide margin, and Palmer said he has no-hit stuff on a consistent basis.
"I just think it's an evolution of pitching three or four years and having overwhelming talent," said Palmer, who has more wins (268) than any other Oriole. "There's never been a doubt about that."
Bedard's last three starts -- all wins -- have been a study in dominance, with the power pitcher logging 33 strikeouts and allowing just 11 baserunners. He had a 21-inning scoreless streak that was snapped by a solo home run on Friday night, and Palmer said Oakland is a lineup custom-built for Bedard's skills.
"If you look at this team, three of their four home run guys are left-handed. [Nick] Swisher's the other guy, and he's a switch-hitter, so there you go," he said. "You take most of those guys out of the lineup or you certainly neutralize them. Lefties can't hit lefties. I don't know of any left-hander, with the exception of Barry Bonds, that's ever had the same slugging percentage against left-handed pitching."
Strangely enough, Bedard can be too dominant for his own good. He strikes out so many batters that he runs up a high pitch count, and the Orioles want to be careful and not put too much stress on his arm. Bedard exited Friday night's game after 105 pitches, but Palmer said that's a function of his arsenal.
"Everybody likes to strike people out, but if you're not going to throw 130 pitches, it brings up a valid point," he said of pitching to contact. "His stuff is so electric that even if he's not trying to strike them out, they're going to strike out."
Palmer, a three-time Cy Young Award-winner, said there's something to the obvious point that Bedard has faced some subpar lineups during his hot streak, but in his next breath, he overruled that sentiment.
"It doesn't matter right now [who he's facing]," he said. "That's what happens when you can throw to both sides of the plate and throw a curveball at any time. It's not just an ordinary get-me-over curveball."
Back in action: Right-hander Hayden Penn has completed his recovery from surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow and got back on the mound Friday night in the Gulf Coast League. The 22-year-old threw one inning and allowed two unearned runs, but the major development was that he was back on the mound at all.
Penn, who rocketed through the organization and became just the third pitcher in the last 40 years to make his big-league debut before his 21st birthday, has endured more than his share of bad luck and bad timing. He had to undergo an emergency appendectomy shortly after his callup last season, and his injury this year made him miss a chance to get a callup.
With Kris Benson, Jaret Wright and Adam Loewen out for extended periods of time, Penn could've gotten a chance to establish himself in the big leagues. Now, the Orioles want to make sure he's healthy before they worry about promoting him.
"I think the plan is take it one start at a time for him and see how he rebounds after he pitches," said interim manager Dave Trembley. "But obviously, he's going through the throwing program that was necessary in order to get him back in games. Now, I don't know what the progression is. When he tells us he's ready, we'll him back up through the system."
Official leave: Injured shortstop Miguel Tejada left the team a couple of days early and headed back to Baltimore, where he'll have a doctor's appointment Tuesday to ascertain how well the fracture in his left wrist has healed. If everything is intact, he'll start batting practice Tuesday afternoon.
"He's got to get cleared Tuesday morning," Trembley said. "But right now, we have him tentatively scheduled to hit on the field Tuesday afternoon."
The four-time All-Star took 100 ground balls on the field Friday and has been spoiling for a return as quick as humanly possible. Baltimore is willing to let him, as long as the doctors agree that there's no chance of re-breaking the bone in his wrist. Before his injury, Tejada had played in 1,152 consecutive games -- the fifth-longest streak of all time.
Quotable: "He probably wanted to do a whole lot more than we let him do, but he was fine. His attitude was great. His work ethic was tremendous. He felt like he was being held back and could do a whole lot more. We just couldn't let that happen until we get final clearance on Tuesday." -- Trembley on Tejada's recovery
Coming up: The Orioles and A's will play their series finale on Sunday, and Jeremy Guthrie will be matched up against Oakland's Dallas Braden. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.