In an embarrassing incident for all involved, the Baltimore Orioles today were forced to cancel Friday night's roster move -- in which they optioned pitcher Rocky Coppinger to Class AAA Rochester -- because of a technicality, and Coppinger was back in the Orioles' clubhouse the day after blasting Manager Ray Miller as he exited.
In addition, reliever Gabe Molina, who reported this morning to the Orioles' clubhouse believing he was taking Coppinger's place, had to return to Rochester before he could even unpack.
According to General Manager Frank Wren, the mistake occurred because the club didn't realize Coppinger recently passed the three-year anniversary of his major league debut (June 11, 1996), at which point players cannot be optioned without first passing through waivers.
"When we optioned him in May he didn't need waivers," Wren said. "This time we will need waivers."
The club still will ask waivers on Coppinger and send him to Rochester on Wednesday if he goes unclaimed. The waivers can be revoked if another club puts in a claim on Coppinger.
"This just delays it for a couple of days," Wren said.
Meanwhile, Coppinger walked into the Orioles' clubhouse about an hour before today's game, catching good-natured grief from teammates for his comments Friday night, when he criticized Miller's use of him and asked to be traded. "It's time to move on," Coppinger said Friday night. "If Ray thinks I'm a mop-up guy, he's wrong. I'm better than that. The manager here doesn't like me and has never liked me."
Today, Coppinger said his comments Friday night were made in the "heat of the moment." "I wasn't embarrassed by what I said," Coppinger said. "I'm 25, and when this goes on in your life, it's really stressful, and it kind of gets old and you have a hard time sleeping at night wondering what's wrong. . . .
"If they want to keep me in the bullpen, hopefully I can earn [Miller's] trust and he'll keep using me. If not, hopefully I'll earn someone else's trust."
Miller denied disliking Coppinger, and pointed to Coppinger's numbers this season as justification for his handling of the right-hander, who since being recalled on May 23 has made only six appearances (including today), five of which have been in games in which the Orioles led or trailed by five runs or more.
"There are no personal feelings involved," Miller said. "But . . . there is a little bit of accountability. He's pitched 15 innings [actually 15 2/3], and given up 20 hits and 16 walks. That makes it a little tough to pull the trigger and put him in a one-run game in the eighth inning.
"The arm is there. The ability is there. If everybody in the organization is against him, he wouldn't have been called up twice, especially after having an awful spring."
Anderson Sets Mark
Center fielder Brady Anderson set a club record in the first inning with his 253rd stolen base as an Oriole, passing Al Bumbry. . . . Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter left the game in the eighth inning with tightness in his right hamstring, but he is expected to play Sunday.