07/05/10 8:42 PM ET
Millwood's rough start raises health concerns
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Kevin Millwood lasted just one inning Monday in his worst performance of the season, allowing five earned runs against the Tigers and showcasing a dip in velocity that raises questions concerning Millwood's health.
"There is some concern there," said interim manager Juan Samuel, speaking about Millwood, who threw just four of 45 pitches over 90 mph.
"[Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] has noticed that his ball was just not coming out of his hand [with authority] and his velocity was a little bit down. And knowing Kevin, he is not going to tell you what's wrong and what's not. He is one of those guys that's going to take the ball anytime you give it to him."
Samuel met with Kranitz, head athletic trainer Richard Bancells and director of baseball operations Matt Klentak for approximately 20 minutes before talking to the media. After speaking to reporters for less than five minutes, Samuel returned to the room.
When asked if the corresponding roster move for Pie could be putting a player on the DL, Samuel said it's always a possibility.
"We are trying to still piece some things together and see what is the best decision we need to make," he said. "And probably keep another arm."
If Millwood is not injured, his recent struggles are alarming. Including the five earned runs he allowed to the Tigers, his first-inning ERA is 24.00 in his last nine starts, and he has allowed 25 runs in that span to balloon his season ERA to 5.77. In his last seven starts, Millwood has a 10.20 ERA, after posting a respectable 3.38 in his first five starts this season and a 4.29 mark in the six after that.
Millwood said he wasn't sure his problems were mechanical, and acknowledged that this stretch, performance-wise, has been one of the lowest points of his 14-year career.
"I have tried a lot of different things to come out of it and change things," Millwood said, "and just haven't been able to do [it]".
If Millwood is hurt and the team opts to put him on the shelf, it would only need a spot starter for Saturday's game in Texas before heading into the All-Star break. While reliever Frank Mata looked to be a sure bet to be optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk for Pie, Millwood's outing overextended the bullpen and puts a premium on arms.
A DL move would allow the Orioles the flexibility of keeping both Mata and rookie third baseman Josh Bell, who is another candidate to be optioned for Pie.
"We have some concern that maybe [Millwood] pitched a bunch early in the season," Samuel said. "But we'll see. We are trying to figure out which way we are going to go with him."
O's speak with Showalter a second time
DETROIT -- The Orioles are interested in making Buck Showalter the full-time replacement for manager Dave Trembley, who was dismissed on June 4, according to a Major League source.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal first reported the Orioles spoke with Showalter, who interviewed on June 23, again on Monday and made it clear in his message on Twitter that he believes the organization is leaning that way. The team has not commented on the report.
President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail confirmed the first interview with Showalter, which lasted around three hours, and has said previously that he won't put a timeline on the manager search.
"I think we want to get it right, whether it's in two weeks or two months [is] probably not as important as getting the right guy," said MacPhail, who didn't anticipate making a hire prior to the All-Star break. "I don't think, frankly given our place in the standings, urgency is as paramount as it might be to a team like the Marlins, who are still a few game within striking distance."
The other leading candidate is believed to be Eric Wedge, who twice interviewed with the team and is considered a front-runner along with Showalter.
Gonzalez won't return until post All-Star break
DETROIT -- Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel confirmed on Monday that closer Michael Gonzalez will not be back until after the All-Star break.
There had been hope, from both Gonzalez and within the organization, that the lefty would be activated at some point during the Orioles' current 10-game road trip, but pitching coach Rick Krantiz said last week that the team wouldn't rush his return. Kranitz likened Gonzalez's rehab to his Spring Training, given that Gonzalez made just three appearances before going on the 60-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain.
"The plan that we have mapped out for him to pitch is probably going to take him all the way past the All-Star break," Samuel said of Gonzalez, who is scheduled to throw Tuesday and back-to-back Friday and Saturday.
Gonzalez threw a scoreless inning for Double-A Bowie on Sunday night and said in a text message that his pitches are getting "crisper" with each outing and his breaking ball, which has been slow to come around, was improved. His velocity, which hasn't been a concern as of late, was in the low 90s and Samuel has said that the Orioles are more concerned with getting his command and offspeed pitches up to snuff.
Gonzalez allowed a home run in one inning at Bowie on Friday and in short-season Aberdeen on June 27, the latter which Samuel said came on a breaking pitch. He also tossed scoreless 1 1/3 innings for Aberdeen on Tuesday. It's all but assured Gonzalez will have to work his way back into the Orioles' closer's role, occupied by Alfredo Simon.
Bell favorite to stay if Mata is optioned
DETROIT -- Orioles rookie Josh Bell wasn't in Monday's starting lineup in Detroit, but is available to pinch hit or play third base off the bench if needed. Bell left Sunday's 6-1 win over the Red Sox in the top of the eighth inning with right leg cramps and said Monday morning that he was feeling fine. He had knee surgery in the past, but it was his left knee, so there isn't any lingering concern.
Interim manager Juan Samuel confirmed prior to Monday's game that Bell is available and hinted that the young third baseman might be with the team longer than anticipated. Bell made his Major League debut and picked up his first hit Thursday against Oakland, but was initially expected to be the odd man out Tuesday when Felix Pie returns.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.