Trembley walking tightrope with Sherrill

Trembley walks tightrope with Sherrill

BOSTON -- Managing a bullpen can be a delicate balancing act, and Orioles manager Dave Trembley knows that as well as anyone. Trembley on Friday addressed concerns about the way closer George Sherrill has been used, saying that he's not sure whether his relief ace has been used too often or how he can make him better prepared for the second half.

Sherrill, who had blown four saves in his last 11 appearances entering Friday's game, said after Thursday's game that fatigue hasn't been an issue. Instead, he noted that he'd pitched only twice in the last nine days and that it was hard to find his rhythm. Trembley acknowledged that could be a concern but said he's handling things the best way he can.

Sherrill struck out Kevin Youkilis with the bases loaded in the ninth inning on Friday to earn the save and secure the Orioles' 7-3 win over the Red Sox.

"It's kind of a push-pull," Trembley said. "If I use him three days in a row, people are ready to [criticize] me. If I don't use him, then he hasn't pitched enough. I think he's pitched enough where if it's not a save situation, you're not going to pitch him."

Sherrill, who was used mostly as a situational reliever during his Seattle tenure, is fewer than seven innings away from matching his career high in the Major Leagues. The southpaw did work 74 innings split between Seattle and Triple-A Tacoma in 2004, but he's already made 42 appearances and should blow by last year's total by the end of July.

Trembley has long pledged that he won't use Sherrill three days in a row except under extenuating circumstances, and he said on Friday that he wants to make sure his first-year closer is fresh for the remainder of the season.

"I told him last night before the game," said Trembley of a recent conversation. "I said, 'I fully expect we'll be ahead, so you're going to be in there in the ninth inning. And if not, you'll pitch the bottom of the eighth.'

"I think you can make a case on either point, on either side. I think George probably knows himself better than I do. If he needs more work, I'm not opposed to giving it to him. But I think you've got to be somewhat smart about it."

Sherrill, who is on pace to shatter Baltimore's single-season saves record (45) but has already blown six, will be watched carefully over the second half of the season. Trembley said that he hopes the first-time All-Star can use the three-day break to reset himself, but he also hopes the left-hander will get a chance to pitch in the Midsummer Classic.

"He'll probably tell you he doesn't [need a rest]. I'll probably tell you everybody does at this particular point in time," Trembley said. "I think it's more mental than physical. ... I think with George, like anyone else, it's location and finishing your pitches. I watched the tape from last night, and he didn't throw the wrong pitches. He just didn't locate and finish on them.

"If that's because he hasn't pitched in a while, I don't know that. If that's because he's pitched too much, I don't know that. If I did know, I'd probably be a whole lot smarter than I appear to be."

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