Notes: Brower's struggles continue

Notes: Brower's struggles continue

TORONTO -- Call it the Triple Trouble Crown, a first-place ranking in three undesirable categories. Baltimore's Jim Brower leads AL relievers in most earned runs (14) and most walks (11), and he's tied for the most hits allowed (17). The right-hander knows he's had a tough time in the last few weeks, but he also knows it could be worse.

"Having a start like this is horrible. [But] I don't think I'm the only guy having a bad first month," Brower said. "Things haven't gone my way. It would be hard to take if I wasn't feeling good out there. Last year, I had a slow start, but I was also off physically, and then you start to panic a little bit."

Brower said he has his health and his stuff, which makes him think success will follow. And it better, because the Orioles are running out of roles to hand him. The veteran has been used deep in the game and in the middle, but he's yet to find his comfort zone. Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo is staying patient, largely because Brower has a lot of experience.

"He's pitched deep in games for teams -- in the eighth inning," Perlozzo said. "For us to be a winning ballclub, if we can get a guy like [Todd] Williams back and move Jim down another inning, you can strengthen your bullpen even further so that you can stay in those games a little longer. It can be a big asset for you. And who knows? I totally expect him to get better as we go along and maybe even increase his role again. We'll see."

Just how bad has Brower been? Brower has pitched in 10 games this season, and he's allowed multiple runs in six of them. Baltimore has a 2-4 record in those games, and Brower has become one of Perlozzo's biggest concerns. That's saying something in this bullpen, which features three rookie relievers and a first-year closer.

Perlozzo said it's been a mixture of poor pitching and bad luck thus far, and he expects Brower to improve on both counts.

"He was pitching much better. He doesn't get many breaks, either," Perlozzo said. "Here's Eddy Rodriguez, [who] goes out there and the first guy hits a bullet -- and it's right at somebody. Jim just doesn't get a break. We'll continue to try to put him in the right spots against people we think he's got a shot at getting out.

"We'll see what happens," Perlozzo added. "He's certainly not one I want to give up on."

Pickoffs: Maybe you saw the play on Wednesday night, a pickoff that turned into a footrace between two poorly matched opponents. The Orioles caught Toronto outfielder Alex Rios napping at first base, but Rios was able to bait Kevin Millar into chasing him all the way to second. The baserunner won the race, narrowly avoiding a tag from the lunging Millar.

The veteran said he made the wrong play, explaining that he should've thrown the ball to shortstop Miguel Tejada.

"The right play is to get him going as hard as he can toward second base and give Miggy the ball," said Millar. "Once I got going, he started jogging for a second, and I thought he was going to stop, anticipating a throw. I kept running, but he outran me."

The instant replay backed up Millar's claim -- Rios appeared to come to a full stop between the bases, enticing Millar to keep chasing him. But right when the first baseman got close, Rios sped up again, staying just out of arm's reach. The play gained further notoriety a little later, when Vernon Wells blasted a two-run homer to cap the game's scoring.

Millar said he hasn't had any phone calls to discuss the play, and he's thankful to talk about it as little as possible.

"Thank God we were in Toronto," Millar said. "We were far enough away for people not to be able to see that. That was the only plus."

Back in action: Todd Williams will rejoin the club on Friday, but the Orioles aren't sure whether the right-hander is ready to return from his various ailments. The reliever missed all of Spring Training with a sore shoulder and a strained calf, but he's pitched in a few Minor League rehab games during the last week.

Perlozzo said the O's will base their decision largely on Williams' opinion -- if he thinks he's ready to pitch, they'll probably make room for him and restore him to the active roster.

"If he says he's ready to go, we wouldn't activate him tomorrow -- because he went back-to-back days," Perlozzo said. "I'd have to say the earliest he could be activated would be [on] Saturday. ... We'll have to find another spot for him."

The manager acknowledged the peril in going by the pitcher's word, but he said Williams knows the stakes surrounding his return. If he comes back and he's ineffective, it wouldn't do much good for anyone involved.

"I wouldn't want the guy to lie," Perlozzo said. "If he's not ready to go for us, I'm not going to feel like I'm ready to bring him in."

Quotable: "Our better defensive players aren't hitting, and our better offensive players aren't the best defensive players. Somewhere in there, you try to find a happy medium once in a while. When you're struggling, everything gets magnified, quite honestly." -- Perlozzo talking about the difficulty of keeping everyone on his roster involved

Coming up: The Orioles head home for a three-game series against the Mariners starting Friday. The first game will pit Daniel Cabrera against Seattle's Gil Meche.

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