BALTIMORE: By the time Grady Sizemore stepped in the box for a look at the first pitch of the game Thursday night, it had been 362 days since the Indians had played the Orioles at Camden Yards.
It's the way of the baseball world these days. Since the advent of interleague play, the schedule has become a hodgepodge of random games, surrounding the sacred weeks when clubs from rival leagues play one another.
Except for rivarly weekend, the second last weekend of May , the interleague portion of the schedule begins in mid-June and runs for 21/2 weeks, encompassing three weekends. Everything elsed has to fit around this block of games.
With most teams playing 18 interleague games plus 18 or 19 games against division rivals, there isn't much room to take on only rivals, and anomalies are commonplace. ¶
""It'a not like the old days,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""I liked the pre-interleague schedules better, but there's no use thinking about that.'' ¶
Commssioner Bud Selig invented interleague play, and he's not about to change it unless the owners band together and complain in unison. ¶
Next year's tentative schedule was sent out to teams in July. Once they see it, they can ask for changes, but altering one team's schedule can trigger a chain reaction that affects many clubs. Consequently, with few exceptions, the schedule will stand. ¶
""Its not just Mark (Shapiro) and Chris (Antonetti) who get into that,'' said Wedge of the general manager and the assistant GM. ""The business people also get involved.'' ¶
Playing a team so seldom creates more work for Wedge and his coaches, who are largely unfamiliar with the Orioles. ¶
""They are probably saying the same thing about us,'' Wedge said. ""It seems like Baltimore is one team we don't play much.'' ¶
For whatever reason, that's the way it's been for several seasons, and this kind of schedule forces teams to go to extra lengths to prepare. ¶
""You have to,'' Wedge said. ""You've got all these new players and then you have all the time that has passed since you played that team. And even if a club has the same guys, they're in different parts of their careers since you saw them. ¶
""You need to pay attention in the first game of the series. You need to take notes in that game, because you have three more after that. Reports can only take you so far.'' ¶
And think about this: When the Indians meet the Athletics on Sept. 18, it will have been 17 months since the Tribe played a game in Oakland. ¶
RIGHT MOVE -- Right-handed sidearmer Joe Smith had a converntional overhand delivery when he matriculating in 2005 at Wright State in Dayton. ¶
But one day the pitching coach, Greg Lovelady, asked a favor of Smith. ¶
""He was looking for a guy to throw sidearm and asked if I could do it,'' Smith said. ""He tried a couple of other people before he got to me, and I guess they didn't work out. ¶
""So I said, 'I can do that. But you just want me to mix in a few, right?' He said no; he wanted me to throw that way every pitch. I didn't really like it at first, but that's what got me here.'' ¶
PERALTA SITS -- Manager Eric Wedge has been trying to find dasys to rest Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta. ¶
With the first two taken care of, Peralta got his day of rest Thursday night, as Jamey Carroll played third. ¶
""Jhonny needas a day off,'' Wedge said. ""It's been along stretch for him. It will be good for him to watch a ballgame.'' ¶
Peralta had started 59 consecutive games. ¶
GRAND THEFT -- Columbus outfielder Michael Brantley is second in the International League with 41 steals (in 46 attempts). ¶
FARM FACTS -- Wes Hodges had an RBI double and three singles to raise his average to .264, but Columbus lost 4-1 to Indianapolis. *elip Paulo Espino (7-6, 2.58 ERA) gave up two runs and five hits in six innings, as Kinston edged Frederick 3-2. *elip Mark Thompson and Jeremie Tice each homered, Tice driving in two runs and Thompson three, as Lake County beat Delmarva 7-6. Jason Knapp gave up three runs and four hits and three walks in two innings. *elip Jordan Henry doubled and singled four times, driving in two runs, as Mahoning Valley beat Batavia 11-6. ¶