When the Baltimore Orioles speak of their frustration with starting pitcher Sidney Ponson, his performance Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels could be Exhibit A.
The game plan was to pitch carefully to Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero, but Ponson's approach to him could more accurately be described as careless, as Guerrero homered twice, singled and drove in five runs in three at-bats against Ponson, as the Orioles suffered a 10-1 defeat.
Guerrero's RBI single and one of his homers came with first base open, a situation in which Ponson easily could have pitched around Guerrero, the American League's reigning most valuable player. Guerrero's second homer followed a walk Ponson issued to Darin Erstad.
"He's got to change his approach," Manager Lee Mazzilli said brusquely after the game, speaking about Ponson.
Ponson declined to speak to reporters.
Mazzilli said Wednesday that there are no plans to remove Ponson from the rotation, although he has not won since June 18, a span of eight starts.
Asked whether Ponson's emotional state may have been adversely affected by the trade rumors that built up as the July 31 trade deadline approached, Mazzilli said, "An athlete still has an obligation to his team, whether there are rumors or not."
Lopez Bats Cleanup
With his offense desperate for some clutch hits, Mazzilli moved catcher Javy Lopez into the cleanup spot for the second time all season, moving shortstop Miguel Tejada from fourth to third and dropping third baseman Melvin Mora from third to fifth.