Ortiz taken out of rotation
Starter has 1 win in past 16 outings
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 25, 2006 12:00 AM
SAN DIEGO - After earning just one victory in his past 16 starts dating to last season and working only 14 1/3 innings in starting 0-3 this year, Russ Ortiz has been banished to the bullpen by the Diamondbacks.
For how long?
Apparently, for as long as it takes.
"This is a results-based industry," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've given it some time. We just don't feel like we're getting the results."
Ortiz wasn't immediately available for reaction to the news. After being told of the decision by Melvin, he participated in regular pregame workouts and when returning to the clubhouse at Petco Park, he met again privately with Melvin and General Manager Josh Byrnes in Melvin's office.
The door stayed shut for quite a long time.
After the game, Ortiz showered, dressed and left before reporters could talk to him.
"I feel for him because he's worked so hard," second baseman Orlando Hudson said. "I've seen him win 18 games. . . . I've still got faith in Russ and I know he does, too."
It's a gutsy decision by the Diamondbacks, who are acknowledging that signing Ortiz to a four-year, $33 million deal a year ago might have been an expensive mistake.
Ortiz was 5-11 with a 6.89 ERA in 2005 and was looking just like that same pitcher again, sporting a 6.91 ERA with little command (13 walks) and not much velocity (most of his pitches have been in the 87-88 mph range).
"He's walked the tightrope most of his career," Melvin said, referring to Ortiz's penchant for having to be ultra fine with his pitches and not relying on power.
With a day off Thursday, Arizona will skip Ortiz's spot in the rotation on Saturday and start Brandon Webb, Monday's starter in San Diego, in San Francisco. Ortiz won't be scheduled for his next start after that either, Melvin said.
"He's out of the rotation," the manager said.
"We have time to figure this thing out," he added. "We're going to analyze this thing, (evaluate if it is) mechanical, health. There are a lot of things we've got to think about, and we're trying to do the best thing for us and for Russ."
Melvin said he isn't planning on sticking with a four-man rotation beyond this week, meaning a roster move of some sort likely will have to take place. The team could consider using Juan Cruz as a starter, but Byrnes said the hard-throwing right-hander is too valuable in relief.
The top candidates to replace Ortiz in the rotation are right-handers Dustin Nippert, Kevin Jarvis, (He's Alive! )
Edgar Gonzalez and Enrique Gonzalez (no relation), who form four-fifths of the rotation at Triple-A Tucson.
"We want to get through the next three days or so, and then we'll reassess how our staff is put together," Byrnes said.
Though Ortiz initially took the news like "a professional," Byrnes said, it wasn't known how well the second meeting went inside Melvin's office.