BALTIMORE — The good news for the Orioles stemming from Wednesday’s rainout was the extra day of rest it provided a bullpen still feeling the effects of two extra-inning games in Boston last weekend.
However, the thought of playing two games in the same day against an imposing Texas Rangers lineup that battered the Orioles for 24 runs in the first two games of the series is certainly a scary proposition. Manager Buck Showalter can only hope starting pitchers Wei-Yin Chen and Tommy Hunter are up to the task in containing the Rangers’ bats and preventing them from getting to the Baltimore bullpen too early.
Hunter has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk after being sent down on Monday. The 25-year-old will start the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader on only three days’ rest. Given the physical challenges Hunter had faced that contributed to his demotion earlier in the week, the risk involved with sending him to the mound on short rest was considered by Showalter.
The Orioles manager pointed out Hunter had six days’ rest prior to his last start and only threw 82 pitches before being lifted in the sixth inning at Fenway Park on Sunday.
“I actually think he should be in a real good spot physically,” Showalter said. “It’s certainly something I thought about, but he’s had a lost of rest. He should be fine.”
Under normal circumstances, Hunter would not have been allowed to return to the big-league club for 10 days, but the Orioles have placed outfielder Endy Chavez on the 15-day disabled list as expected. Chavez has dealt with an intercostal injury since the Orioles’ three-game series in Anaheim last month.
Chavez said he injured the ribcage area in a batting practice session, and he has gotten
With Chavez and Nolan Reimold both on the disabled list, the Orioles will rely on a combination of Rule-5 selection Ryan Flaherty, recently-recalled utility player Steve Tolleson, and veteran Wilson Betemit to handle duties in left field. It’s not exactly a comfortable spot for Showalter and the Orioles at a position that had plenty of question marks — even with Reimold and Chavez available — at the start of the season.
“I never thought I’d be in this position,” said Chavez, who is hitting just .133 in 60 at-bats this season. “It’s kind of frustrating and disappointing. I want to help the team. It was something I wasn’t expecting.”
Showalter is targeting Monday for Jason Hammel to make his next start. The right-hander’s sore right knee has responded favorably to treatment despite being forced to miss the start on Thursday. The Orioles are being cautious with his past history of knee soreness, and Showalter said Hammel probably could have made Thursday’s start if they really wanted to push the issue.
As expected, Norfolk pitcher Dana Eveland will make Friday’s start. That means the Orioles will have made a roster move every day this week, which is quite a change from April when the only roster move made was Robert Andino going on paternity leave for two days in late April.
Zach Britton threw 45 pitches over three innings of an extended spring training game in Sarasota on Friday. The southpaw allowed one hit while striking out one and walking one. Showalter wouldn’t reveal what Britton’s fastball velocity was, but he said it was a considerable improvement from his previous bullpen sessions.
When asked for a projected return date for the young left-hander, Showalter admitted late May would likely be too ambitious and mentioned early June as a more realistic possibility.
Here are the Game 1 lineups…
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
C Yorvit Torrealba
1B Brandon Snyder
CF Craig Gentry
SP Colby Lewis (3-1, 2.97 ERA)
LF Ryan Flaherty
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Chris Davis
1B Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Andino
SP Wei-Yin Chen (2-0, 2.76 ERA)
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