A strange scene played out in Baltimore’s home clubhouse on Thursday, moments after the Orioles had completed a 7-3 win over Kansas City. Several writers began seeking comment from closer George Sherrill, who had reportedly been traded to the Dodgers.
Sherrill was unaware of any development, and he left the clubhouse without resolution. On his way out the door, the veteran southpaw was asked by teammate Nick Markakis if he’d see him tomorrow. “Let’s hope,” said Sherrill, who then continued walking out the door.
One Baltimore official said that the deal isn’t quite done yet, but prospects Josh Bell and Steve Johnson are being named as the principal return. The Orioles are known to covet Bell, and Johnson has a tie to the organization through his father Dave, a Baltimore broadcaster.
The Orioles will get to face southpaw Erik Bedard on Tuesday, giving them a first-hand chance to appraise the trade that sent him to Seattle. Bedard, who was sent to the Mariners in exchange for a five-player haul that included Adam Jones and George Sherrill, has never faced Baltimore before and said Monday that it’s just another game for him.
“You have to or else I’d probably get shelled,” he said of his mindset. “If I do, people would say that anyway. They’d say, ‘Oh, he was probably just nervous pitching against his former team.” You can’t win. You just go out there, do what you can and see what happens.”
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley announced a new policy Sundat night and stuck to it Monday, when he said the Orioles wouldn’t use George Sherrill as their dedicated closer anymore. Trembley will now mix and match, using Chris Ray and Jim Johnson too.
“I’m going to play the ninth inning as a day-by-day situation and do what I think is best to try and win the game,” Trembley said Monday. “I think sometimes it depends on the score and also depends on who’s available and who’s pitching well. And I also think sometimes you have to go away from the norm a little when things aren’t going well for you. And right now, things aren’t going well for us. I think it’s important to do something different.”
George Sherrill had another rough spring outing on Thursday and said he wouldn’t be surprised or dismayed if the Orioles elected to re-think his role. Sherrill was named closer early in camp in an effort to take some pressure off former relief ace Chris Ray, who is coming off an entire season missed due to surgery on his right elbow.
And while Ray has thrived, Sherrill has had a typically slow spring. With that in mind, the southpaw was asked if he’d understand if the Orioles made a change in plans.
“For sure. He’s doing good this spring,” Sherrill said of Ray. “If that’s something they want to do, they’re going to do it. All I want to do is win, no matter what my title is.”
Sherrill, who has been scored upon in three straight outings, said that his spring statistics are part of a larger trend that has been with him for much of his career.
“Up until last year, I’ve had to make a team every year. I’ve never really helped my cause,” said Sherrill. “There was probably one year, in ’06, where it went down to the wire. I ended up making the club, but I had like a 14.00 [ERA]. Obviously, I want to be better but it’s just a matter of going out there and getting it done.”
Baltimore closer George Sherrill was offered a belated spot on Team USA’s roster last weekend but declined because he wasn’t far enough along yet. Sherrill, who’s slated to pitch in his first exhibition game on Friday, said it was a tough decision.
“They called and asked me to play, but after taking some advice, I decided it was best not to try and push and get ready for that type of competition this soon,” said Sherrill. “We had asked them to let us know with plenty of time to get ready so the Orioles could change my schedule. It was probably a last minute thing.
“It’s just one of those things that can’t be helped. They knew I wanted to play and was really interested, but it all came down to the schedule I was on.”
If you’ve been wondering why most of Baltimore’s best relief pitchers haven’t thrown in a game, the answer has become readily apparent. Manager Dave Trembley said Saturday that he’s tried to get George Sherrill, Dennis Sarfate, Jim Johnson and Jamie Walker extra work on the practice mound, thus pushing back their timetable to pitch in games.
“With the extra week of spring training, all those guys we’ve held back,” he said. “They’ve gotten their work in the back throwing simulated games or batting practice sessions.”
Trembley was also asked to clarify his late relief picture on Saturday, and he reiterated that Sherrill is his closer and that Chris Ray will still get scattered save opportunities.
“I didn’t want Chris Ray to think he was coming into camp and it was a tryout,” he said. “I told George he was the closer on the team but he was not going to get every save opportunity. I did it for both guys. I didn’t want Sherrill to come in here and think he had to hurry up and get out there, and I didn’t want Chris Ray wondering what his role on the club was going to be.”
The Orioles got George Sherrill through all of the day’s activities on Thursday, but Scott Chiasson remained home while suffering with a virus. Kam Mickolio also missed practice with a groin strain, but Baltimore has been fairly healthy thus far.
Jolbert Cabrera made it to Fort Lauderdale a little bit later than expected but will likely practice Friday. There is no update on the visa cases of Alfredo Simon and Felix Pie, but manager Dave Trembley hopes they’ll make it to camp without much further delay.
“I don’t know when he’s going to get here. I haven’t been told,” Trembley said of Pie. “We’ve got time. Let’s get him here as soon as he can. Let’s get him into the program. Let’s get him comfortable in his new surroundings and let’s get him acclimated to his new teammates and coaches. There’s really not a whole lot I can say or do about it until he gets here.”