-- Still bitter over being moved back to the bullpen the day before, Baltimore Orioles right-hander Rodrigo Lopez on Wednesday claimed he is a "proven starter" who is being mistreated by team officials.
"I'm unhappy, that's for sure," said Lopez, who was scheduled to start Thursday night against the Dodgers before being informed by Manager Lee Mazzilli on Tuesday that he was being moved back to the bullpen. "I just think I deserve to be treated better."
Informed of Lopez's comments prior to Wednesday night's game, Mazzilli said: "If that's the way he feels, I can understand that. But I just feel that's my decision [based on the fact] he's better for the ballclub in the bullpen. As far as how he's been treated . . . I've treated him with respect. So I don't know where that came from. I don't know what he means by that."
Lopez, 28, was the Orioles' top starter in 2002, winning 15 games and finishing runner-up in voting for American League rookie of the year. He fell to 7-10 last season and, to his disappointment, was bumped out of the rotation this spring by young pitchers.
In the Orioles' bullpen for the first seven weeks of the season, Lopez became a vital part of the team's fast start, posting a 0.33 ERA in 12 appearances until injuries in the rotation caused the Orioles to move him back to a starting role.
Lopez posted a 2-1 record and 6.41 ERA in five starts, while the bullpen struggled mightily, compiling a 6.83 ERA in his absence. The team went 8-16 during that span.
"I'm pitching well," he said. "My numbers are not good as a starter, but I won two games . . . and my ERA [4.24] the last three starts has been pretty good."
Asked if he planned to ask the team for a trade, Lopez said: "I have nothing to say about it. I want to be a starter."
Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jim Beattie, who remained in Baltimore this week, declined to address directly the possibility of a trade.
"If there's a problem with him, we'll do what we can," Beattie said. "Right now, I think he's an invaluable part of our bullpen, and we're going to see how the team performs the way it's set up now."
Lopez vowed not to let his bitterness affect his performance. "When I get [to the bullpen], my main thing is to get people out," he said.
Team Scout Dies
Rob Derksen, an Orioles scout in the Pacific Rim and the head coach of the Greek Olympic baseball team, died of a heart attack in New York. He was 44.