Notes: Leicester called up to Majors
Perlozzo reviews Burres' start; Gibbons misses third straight
BALTIMORE -- The last time Jon Leicester pitched in the big leagues, the Orioles were in first place. The right-handed reliever was promoted to the Majors on Monday for the first time since the end of the 2005 season and hasn't pitched since May of that year. In between, he's had to overcome a torn ACL that robbed him of nearly an entire year.
"He was happy when he walked in," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "[He] said it put things in perspective for him [and] said he was real excited to be back in the big leagues."
Leicester missed virtually all of last season with his left knee injury and wasn't sure if he'd ever make it back to the form he showed in 2004, when he went 5-1 with a 3.89 ERA as a rookie for the Chicago Cubs. He struggled in '05 and had to prove himself to a new organization, Texas, before injuring himself in '06. Now, he has another fresh start.
"You're always trying to pitch, just to get back up. They tell you there's no chance," he said of the fallout from his knee injury. "It's tough for the first couple of months. ... I think I tried to spin a positive thing on it and just get back as healthy as I could, because when you start playing that many years in a row ... there's no rest in the offseason."
Leicester, who was starting for Triple-A Norfolk when he got the call, has posted a 1-2 record with a 3.19 ERA this season. He'll have a defined role as the team's long man filling in for Kurt Birkins, who was optioned to Norfolk as the other half of the transaction. Leicester could have the same fate soon, if the team needs to fill a gap.
"We just needed someone who could throw multiple innings. We needed a long guy today," Perlozzo said. "If we keep using them like that, we'll just keep rotating until we keep somebody fresh and available."
Perlozzo said he thinks the long-relief situation could remain unsettled as long as he has two erstwhile relievers -- Brian Burres and Jeremy Guthrie -- in the starting rotation. The rest of the bullpen should remain fairly consistent, but Perlozzo said the Orioles will have no problem switching fresh arms into the long role.
At any rate, Leicester said he's familiar with the role from his time with the Cubs.
"It was a lot of finishing games, extra innings and all the in-betweens," he said. "So, I'm ready to go."
Leicester was scheduled to start for Norfolk on Monday, which means he should be able to sop up at least a few innings for Baltimore. The former 11th-round draft pick said he's OK with whatever comes during his big-league stint, and he said he feels mentally refreshed and recharged from his time spent away from the game.
"It was good, actually," he said of the year off. "It was part of the whole experience of being a professional baseball player. Sometimes, you have to sit out and take a look back on which direction you want to go."
The morning after: Perlozzo said he hadn't thought much more about Burres in the starting rotation, but he did issue a fairly telling review of the southpaw's performance in his first career start.
"It looked like he hit a brick wall. He just ran out of gas and lost his command," he said of Sunday's 9-6 loss. "For some reason, he seemed to get tired that inning. When you do, you lose your command like that."
Perlozzo said the Orioles haven't made any firm decisions on whether Burres will remain in the rotation, but Mike Flanagan, the team's executive vice president of baseball operations, admitted Sunday that he was scanning the waiver wire and Triple-A rosters for a potential replacement. Right now, there don't appear to be any options in-house.
When asked about Garret Olson, one of the team's top prospects, Flanagan said he'd prefer to bide his time.
"He's been throwing well. We'll see how that goes," he said of the southpaw, who has an 0-3 record and a 4.36 ERA at Norfolk. "We'll watch his development. We figured he was going to come on strong some time this year, [and] he's had a couple good starts. I'm not saying we're looking at him in the short term, but we'll take a look at him."
On the pine: Jay Gibbons didn't start for the third consecutive day on Monday, and Perlozzo said that's largely due to the veteran's .188 batting average in 85 at-bats. His main competitor for playing time, Kevin Millar, is batting .244 with an on-base percentage (.375) that ranks third-best on the team.
"It's not easy, but Gibby's swing is still not where it's supposed to be," Perlozzo said. "I talked to him a day or two ago. I told him, 'Be patient and keep working at it. We'll get you back in there as soon as we can.' ... There's a lot of season left and we certainly expect Gibby to be a positive contributor for us. We did all along."
Perlozzo also gave catcher Ramon Hernandez a day off despite the fact that the backstop has driven in seven runs in the last two days and 14 in his nine games played this season. Perlozzo wants to protect Hernandez, who missed most of the first month with a strained left oblique.
"His ankle was bothering him a little bit yesterday, also," he said. "You need to take care of him. He's not that far removed from his injury and he's got a little nagging thing. He deserves a day [off]."
Grace and gluttony: Two members of the Baltimore press corps engaged in a gastronomic showdown for the ages on Monday. David Ginsburg of The Associated Press and Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post pledged to eat a hot dog for every half-inning of the game until one of them begged out or wasn't able to finish.
The game set a blistering pace for the two competitors, making them eat two dogs in 13 minutes, four in 33 and six in less than an hour. Ginsburg couldn't make it through the sixth inning and his 12th hot dog, but Kilgore kept going and established the Camden Yards record at 12.
The toll on their bodies: 260 calories for each hot dog and bun and 15.5 grams of fat for every half-inning.
Quotable: "You get to sit back and watch a lot of pitching. And then you kind of figure out what people are doing well and at a certain point, get to start over." -- Leicester, on his time spent in injury rehab.
Coming up: The Orioles will begin a three-game series against the Devil Rays on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET, and Guthrie will be matched up against Tampa Bay's Jae Seo. Guthrie will be starting in place of the injured Jaret Wright.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.