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Bierbrodt headed to the pen

By Chris Ruddick, MLB Contributing Editor

Devil Rays team report

(Sports Network) - Manager Lou Piniella gave Nick Bierbrodt every opportunity to stay in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' starting rotation, but after another dreadful performance on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles, Piniella had seen enough and demoted his young lefthander to the bullpen.

"Nick's going to the bullpen to see if we can get him straightened out," Piniella said. "From what I've seen right now, he is not ready to start at the big-league level. We'll pitch him in long relief."

The bullpen assignment is just the latest in a string of obstacles that the 24-year-old hurler has been forced to overcome. It was just last year that Bierbrodt suffered gunshot wounds outside a restaurant while in South Carolina on a rehab assignment trying to work his way back to the Devil Rays. Both bullets passed through his chest and settled in his liver, where they remain.

According to the police report, Bierbrodt and two other passengers were in a taxi when a man on a bicycle rode by. Bierbrodt said something to the bicyclist and the two men got into an argument. The man then pulled out a small-caliber weapon and shot Bierbrodt twice in the chest.

The former No. 1 pick of the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, Bierbrodt was released from the hospital nine days later and didn't begin throwing again until early October.

However, his return to the big leagues this season has been nothing short of horrendous, as he has allowed 23 runs -- 21 earned -- on 32 hits in 14 1/3 innings.

"I think what's best for Nick right now is going into the bullpen and working on some things and maybe I can spot him right, and he can gain some confidence and get him to throw the ball the way he is capable," Piniella added.

On Sunday, Bierbrodt allowed four runs on five hits in just 1 1/3 innings -- the shortest outing of his career -- in his team's 4-1 loss to the Orioles. The setback dropped Bierbrodt to 0-2 on the year and raised his ERA to a lofty 13.19.

"I was behind on everybody and I threw fastballs belt-high," Bierbrodt said. "You can't pitch here if you're throwing belt-high."

Seth McClung, Jorge Sosa and Dewon Brazelton are the favorites to replace Bierbrodt in the rotation. McClung made a strong case for the spot on Sunday, as he entered after Bierbrodt and held Baltimore to one hit in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

"We will get this right, hopefully sooner than later, and we'll put these people exactly where they belong and where they can function," Piniella said.


Rey Ordonez, whose sacrifice fly accounted for the lone D-Rays run on Sunday, has already matched his career high with three homers and has driven in a team-high 15 runs, marking his best total for any month. Ordonez, who is also hitting .299, has more RBI, a higher batting average and would be tied for the home run lead on his former team, the New York Mets.


Outfielder Carl Crawford is just 4-for-38 in his last eight games with no RBI and has scored only twice. For the year he is hitting .231.


Tampa will close its four-game set on Monday against the Orioles then return home for six games. The homestand will kick off with a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, before Baltimore comes to town for three games.

04/21 12:01:53 ET

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