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Orioles' Julio Can't Hold On

"It was a good start," Riley said. "It's a start toward trying to belong here. I have to prove to the coaches and my teammates that I belong here. One start doesn't do that."

Riley had not yet exhausted every possible opportunity with the Orioles, though he had caused them considerable grief.


Miguel Tejada's frustration shows after he struck out to end the game, one the Orioles let get away. (Nick Wass -- AP)

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In his short time with the Orioles, Riley managed to depress, anger, frustrate, bewilder -- everything but impress -- Baltimore management.

He was a talent, that was for sure. But he was also an anomaly, who had been arrested for starting a fight during spring training in 2000 and had struggled through elbow ligament replacement surgery the same year.

Riley, though considered a top prospect, was a surprise addition to the team's rotation out of spring training. But again, he found a way to squander the opportunity.

On July 1, in preparation for his start the next day, the Orioles sent Riley to Philadelphia to rest while the team was in Kansas City during a road trip.

Riley arrived in Philadelphia, but drove to Baltimore, where he spent the night. Riley did not arrive at Philadelphia's Citizen Bank Ballpark until 4:30 p.m. Later that night, he allowed five runs in one inning against the Phillies. Riley was demoted immediately after the game.

Although in possession of a powerful arm, Riley had yet to realize that careers are cut short, even for an immense talent like himself, when the game is not taken seriously and orders from management aren't respected. The Hall of Fame is full of players as talented as Riley. But so too are the minor leagues and the waiver wire.

"This game humbles a lot of people," Orioles Executive Vice President Jim Beattie said.

If the start against Minnesota was not his final chance, it certainly was close to it.

"It's an opportunity," Beattie said. "When people get opportunities, they have to make the best of it. They don't know when they are going to come again."

For the moment, Mazzilli said Riley does not have a permanent place in the rotation. But he showed a maturity one of his teammates lacked.

Orioles Notes: Prior to the game, the Orioles held a tryout for 19-year-old third baseman Leance Soto, son of Miguel Tejada's trainer Enrique Soto.

Soto is from Bani, Dominican Republic, the same home town as Tejada. The Orioles shortstop said Soto does not yet have representation, but would likely try to sign with Fernando Cuza and Diego Benz, Tejada's agents. Several Orioles officials, including Beattie, seemed interested in Soto. Enrique Soto said his son would likely work out for several other teams, possibly Texas, before making a decision. . . . The Orioles recalled relief pitcher Eddy Rodriguez from Class AAA Ottawa.


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