Notes: Mixing and matching the bullpen

Notes: Mixing and matching the bullpen

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles welcomed Danys Baez back on Saturday, but they're still not sure when he'll be able to pitch again. The veteran reliever missed Friday night's game with an illness and reported a slight improvement on Saturday. Baez, who has posted a 1.93 ERA and an .067 batting average against in four July outings, may have to pitch before he's ready.

"He's a lot better," said interim manager Dave Trembley. "I think he'll be available for the game."

The ailment comes at a bad time for the Orioles, who are trying to make do without relief ace Chris Ray. Ray was placed on the disabled list earlier in the week with a bone spur in his right elbow, and Baltimore has successfully converted all three save opportunities since his last appearance. With Baez out, the O's have limited options in the late innings.

Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford have logged three saves, but Baltimore had to use John Parrish and Paul Shuey to get through the seventh inning on Friday night. When Baez returns, Trembley can mix and match a little bit better.

"I don't know if I'd be in a bind, but I'd like to have him," he said. "I'd like to have the arm."

In other injury news, Trembley said that he's not certain when Melvin Mora will return from the disabled list. Mora has missed 12 games with a sprained left foot and would be eligible to be activated on Sunday, but that seems unlikely at this point.

"It's getting better. It's getting close," Trembley said. "He's missed a lot of games. I certainly would think he wouldn't want to come back until he's 100 percent. When he's 100 percent, he'll be good to go. Whether it's here -- and it's his choice -- or a rehab."

Flashbulbs: Every time Alex Rodriguez came to bat on Friday night, Camden Yards was illuminated by hundreds of cameras flashing from different parts of the stadium. The fans were hoping to capture the third baseman's 500th home run, a statistical milestone reached by just 21 players in the storied history of the game.

Several Baltimore players noticed the flashes, but didn't consider them a distraction.

"It's pretty neat," said first baseman Kevin Millar. "I remember when we were facing [Mark] McGwire and you'd see all that stuff when he was hitting all those home runs in '98. ... They're changing balls, and it's kind of neat if you're a fan of baseball. You don't want him to hit the home run, but he's going to be the third guy with 250 [steals] and 500 home runs."

"I noticed them a couple of times. I felt like I was pitching to Barry Bonds or something," said Friday starter Jeremy Guthrie, who earned the victory. "He's obviously deserving and he's got a great career that he's just in the middle of. It's fun, but you don't want to be part of history. You just go and attack him and give him a chance.

"If he beats you, you tip your cap to him. A lot of time, he does beat you. That's how good of a player he is."

Trembley said he saw the flashbulbs in 1998 when he was called up to the big leagues as an extra coach with the Chicago Cubs. He was a witness to Sammy Sosa and McGwire jousting for the single-season home run record, which has since been broken by Barry Bonds. Trembley said that the Rodriguez adulation was similar, but of a far smaller magnitude.

"[Friday] was different," he said. "I wonder -- with all due respect to everybody -- how some of the old-time pitchers would've handled that situation, with changing the balls and all that stuff."

Gold gloves: The Orioles went into Saturday's game leading the American League in both fielding percentage (.987) and fewest errors (48). Baltimore is currently on pace to make just 76 errors, which would set a new club record. Two regulars -- Millar and right fielder Nick Markakis -- have yet to make an error this season.

Trembley, who has a 19-14 record as field boss, has said several times that he wants to win with pitching and defense.

Quotable: "He said something about his flashbulbs, and I said, 'It's because you steal. If you didn't steal bags, you wouldn't be in this category. If you want to be a complete player, you're going to get the flashbulbs.' " -- Millar, on a casual conversation with Rodriguez at first base in Friday's game

Coming up: The Orioles and Yankees will play their series finale on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET, a game that pits Daniel Cabrera against New York's Chien-Ming Wang. Cabrera tossed seven one-hit innings in his last outing.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.