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The Orioles have announced their plans for September as the rosters expand. Bird watchers can look forward to seeing pitchers Hayden Penn, Chris Britton, Julio Manon, Winston Abreu, and outfielder Jeff Fiorentino in major league action.
Orioles fans have been waiting a long time for the 2006 debut of Hayden Penn. The 21 year old righthander was originally called up in May, only to suffer an attack of appendicitis that caused him to miss 53 games. After returning from the disabled list, Penn spent time in both AA Bowie and AAA Ottawa building up his arm strength. In his last start for the Lynx, Penn went eight strong innings; allowing only five hits and no walks while setting a personal record with ten strikeouts. On the season, Penn has averaged 8.73 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, and 0.51 HR/9 for a 2.26 ERA. If there is a silver lining in his setback with appendicitis, it is that his arm should be fresh down the stretch and the Orioles will not have to worry about overworking him. Manager Sam Perlozzo has indicated that Penn will replace a member of the existing rotation, likely the struggling Rodrigo Lopez, instead of the team going to a six-man rotation.
Chris Britton will be back to contributing to the bullpen after a surprising demotion last week. Since struggling in his first appearance back with the Bowie Baysox, Britton has pitched 3.2 innings and allowed only one run, with five strikeouts against one walk.
Julio Manon will also be helping the bullpen, receiving a call-up from AAA Ottawa. Manon saw brief action with the parent club in May and July but has not been able to stick. In twelve innings with the Orioles, he has shown his potential with fifteen strikeouts. Unfortunately, he has also walked twelve batters, so he will have to show more command to be part of the solution to the Orioles' bullpen woes. After bouncing around the Korean leagues for two years, Manon has had a successful AAA season with a 61:20 K:BB ratio in 50.2 innings, 30 saves, and a 2.13 ERA. At 33 years old, however, his major league opportunities are running out fast.
Winston Abreu has long put together solid K:BB ratios in the minor leagues, but a tendency to give up excessive home runs has kept him from tasting consistent success. This season in Ottawa, Abreu has been able to keep the longball under control, allowing only four in 65.1 innings. Coupled with an excellent 78:20 K:BB ratio, Abreu has been able to post an outstanding 2.48 ERA. This time, he'll be up longer than his six day major league trial in the beginning of August.
Jeff Fiorentino is familiar to most fans as the benificiary of a controversial promotion directly from HiA Frederick in 2005. Optioned back to Frederick after struggling in his brief major league trial, Fiorentino continued to struggle. In fact, his prospect status took a major hit when his struggles carried over until late into the 2006 season. Since the beginning of August, though, he's been the Fiorentino of old; hitting .379/.467/.544 in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League and being selected for the Arizona Fall League. As a result of his early addition to the 40-man roster in 2005, Fiorentino will have to stick on the 25-man roster or be passed through waivers after 2007. This should offer the Orioles an extended look to help evaluate his future role with the team. Expect him to get the bulk of starts in left field going forward.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com