The Orioles announced a series of roster moves today. Centerfielder Corey Patterson will be placed on MLB bereavement leave, effective Sunday, April 15th, after the death of his grandfather. He is expected to return April 18th in Tampa Bay.
Although Jay Payton was signed this off-season, at least in part, to back up Corey Patterson in centerfield; his injury leaves an obvious hole in the lineup. The Orioles have brought up 27 year old Adam Stern from triple-A Norfolk to help bridge the gap, although Freddy Bynum is expected to get the majority of starts. Stern is a left-handed defensive specialist, best known for his excellent speed; so don't expect him to help out the offense in its obvious failings against southpaws.
The Orioles have also called up outfielder/first baseman Jon Knott, however, and he may be exactly what this roster needs.
Knott, 28, batted .331/.405/.646 against port-siders in 2006 and led the Pacific Coast league with 113 RBI's. He is limited defensively, but he profiles as a much needed lefty-masher on a team with the potential to post historically bad platoon splits. Of course, convincing Sam Perlozzo to use him, and to do so effectively, is another matter. Knott is most likely only with the big league club until Jay Payton's hamstring is ready to go, which is a shame, considering lesser players like Freddie Bynum and Paul Bako are firmly entrenched in the 25-man roster.
The Orioles have also optioned LHP Kurt Birkins back to Norfolk. He appeared in only one game, earning the loss after giving up four runs in one inning of extra-inning work against the Detroit Tigers. Though it is a shame that anybody needs to walk around with a 36.00 ERA hanging over their head for an extended period of time, the 13-man pitching staff was a poor idea from the beginning. Consider it a gross overcompensation for the decision not to spend money on the bullpen in 2006. Although Sam Perlozzo handled his pitching staff as if he was managing an all-star game in the 12-inning affair against the Tigers, he would have a difficult time burning out as many as 8 relievers. Even five Jaret Wrights might not be able to change that.
Birkins will head back to Notfolk with the knowledge that Harbor Park will help add luster to his rate stats, while his major league experience will keep him a favorite of Perlozzo's if/when the need arises for his services again. He will join the Tides' rotation, where the Orioles believe he will get more consistent work and be able to maintain greater flexibility in his future usage patterns.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com