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News » Baltimore Orioles Inside Pitch 2009-03-01

Baltimore Orioles Inside Pitch 2009-03-01

Baltimore Orioles Inside Pitch 2009-03-01
It has taken only 6 1/2 years, but Danys Baez is a starting pitcher again.

Baez, 31, returned to the mound at Fort Lauderdale Stadium after missing the entire 2008 season, having undergone Tommy John surgery late in 2007.

In returning, Baez sees an opportunity. With three slots open in the Orioles rotation and up to two in the bullpen, Baez is trying to return to his roots as a starting pitcher.

"I worked super hard these 15 months to come back, and I'd have more room to make mistakes as a starter," Baez told The (Baltimore) Sun. "You give up a couple of runs and you still have a chance to stay in the game and help the team.

"The bullpen, there's no room to make any mistakes. That was one of the main reasons I made the decision. I'm not sure what kind of decision they're going to make, but I at least want to have a chance to prove that I can do it."

Baez is competing with a group of younger, less established rotation prospects, in part, because the back end of the bullpen is so solid it has two closers -- right-hander Chris Ray and All-Star lefty George Sherrill.

Baez hasn't started since 2002, when 26 of his 39 appearances were as a member of the Indians' rotation. He went 10-11 with one complete game and a 4.41 ERA that season, his second in the majors.

The Orioles rotation is settled at the top two slots, with right-handers Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara all but locked in.

The final three spots are down to a group that includes Rich Hill, Hayden Penn and David Pauley, each of whom is out of minor league options and would have to make the Opening Day roster or be placed on waivers.

Baez understands his best shot at making the roster is in the rotation. And because he's in the final year of a three-year, $19 million contract, it's also his best shot at prolonging a career marked with inconsistency.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 1, 2009

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