O's happy with Millwood's contributions

O's happy with Millwood's contributions

BALTIMORE -- Even if starter Kevin Millwood -- who leads the American League with 15 losses -- doesn't record another winning decision for the Orioles this year, he's done what the organization envisioned when it traded for him this offseason.

"He is very definitely a positive influence on our young starters," president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said of Millwood (3-15), who is one of the most well-liked and respected players inside the Orioles' clubhouse.

"As we were packing up to go back [from Anaheim], he was getting on [Brad] Bergesen for giving up a run and messing up the three shutouts in a row," MacPhail said. "[Millwood was] telling him he needed to work on his fundamentals, [because] he should have allowed no runs."

While Millwood's performance has dipped considerably following a 3.38 ERA in his first five starts -- including a stretch of nine starts in June and July where his ERA was 9.33 -- he has averaged more than six innings per outing and never complained despite a season-long lack of offensive support. Millwood has pitched 165 2/3 innings over 27 starts and, according to MacPhail, he will remain in the Orioles' rotation for the foreseeable future.

"We are going to have some innings issues with some of our younger starters," MacPhail said of an Orioles rotation that will try to stretch things out by going with six starters at least one time through. "I think still having that veteran presence Millwood has talked about ... we are going to need all of our starters."

Manager Buck Showalter, who was with Millwood in Texas and golfs with him in the offseason, said he feels for the veteran, who is marred in the worst season of his 14-year career.

"There was a lot of games, especially early in the year, that he deserved to win," Showalter said of Millwood, who has recieved just 60 runs total of support in 27 games while on the hill. "But Kevin's got a grip on reality, and [he knows] you can only do the things you can do."

"He kept us in the ballgame [on Friday] night," Showalter said of Millwood's 5 2/3 innings of four-run baseball, which resulted in a 4-1 loss to the Rays. "It might not have been aesthetically pleasing at times, but the body of work was -- he's capable of better -- but he kept us in a position [to win]."

It remains to be seen whether Millwood, who will be a free agent this winter, will pitch again in Baltimore beyond this season. Although his tendency to eat innings makes him attractive to youth-laden rotations like the O's, Millwood could opt to finish his career in a more pitcher-friendly locale. A fierce competitor who takes pride in going deep into the game, Millwood will pitch in 2011, as long as there is interest.

"Kevin's a pro. And from that perspective, it's tough to see guys that handle themselves the way Kevin [does] go through the struggles, statistically, that he has," Showalter said. "We all know he's better than that."