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Orioles release veteran Eaton

Orioles release veteran Eaton

WASHINGTON -- Fittingly, Adam Eaton's tenure with the Orioles ended in a hail of hits and runs, as he was released on Friday, just hours after he had allowed seven earned runs for the second successive start. Eaton started eight games for Baltimore and allowed four runs or more seven times.

The former first-round Draft pick was also released by Philadelphia in Spring Training, and he latched on with Baltimore as a veteran stopgap designed to lessen the strain on the team's top prospects. Eaton logged just one quality start, though, and the O's finally elected to remove him and recast their rotation.

"We were very patient, but we've got to try something different," said manager Dave Trembley. "The record and the way he pitched is pretty self-evident. ... I don't know who the starting pitcher will be for his next slot. We have some time to consider our options."

For now, the Orioles will operate with an eight-man relief staff and a four-man rotation. They recalled Matt Albers from Triple-A Norfolk to help out in the bullpen and will make another move within the next few days. Trembley, in fact, said that Baltimore would consider a few options to take over Eaton's rotation slot.

The O's have had quite a volatile staff this season, and three of the five original rotation members have already been replaced. Baltimore dipped down to Norfolk to promote Brad Bergesen after Alfredo Simon got hurt, and they moved Mark Hendrickson to the bullpen once Rich Hill was ready to come off the disabled list.

Now, the Orioles have to decide whether they want to carry a 13-man pitching staff. If they elect not to, that would mean they'd have to shed a position player once Eaton's vacant rotation slot comes up.

"I don't expect to do that, but I can't tell you that I won't," said Trembley. "And I can't tell you that I will. Right now, what I have is what I have. On Monday, it could be different. We're going to have to do something."

Baltimore felt the same thing about Eaton, who went further than five innings just twice in eight starts. The veteran went 2-5 with an 8.57 ERA and wound up continuing an alarming trend. Eaton has compiled an ERA over 5.00 in every season since 2006, and he hasn't pitched more than 165 innings since '04.

In fact, his hits per nine innings have gone upwards in a fairly straight line. Eaton allowed just 8.5 hits per nine innings in 2003, but that stat zoomed upwards incrementally to a 12.3 figure this season. On Thursday night, Eaton admitted that his statistics are pretty much emblematic of the way he's pitched.

"Obviously, numbers don't lie, but I feel like I've got better stuff than an 8.00 ERA," Eaton said. "The other day, I talked to some guys out in the outfield on the opposing team and they said, 'You're throwing the ball good. What's going on?' And I was like, 'I'd rather be lucky than good sometimes.' One thing you can count on is I'm going to keep trying and keep working to get the numbers turned around, and start getting some wins for this team."

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

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