BALTIMORE — Though Pedro Strop passed his first test as the interim closer in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, the Orioles still anxiously await the return of Jim Johnson, who remains hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.
Doctors continue to run tests in trying to pinpoint the bacterial issue, so Johnson will be unavailable for the second straight night. Manager Buck Showalter revealed upwards of nine players are currently dealing with flu-related or upper respiratory issues stemming from a bug that swept through the Baltimore clubhouse in the latter portion of last week’s road trip.
Showalter has exchanged text messages with his closer but is more concerned with Johnson simply getting his body right before talking about when he will return to the mound.
“You’re talking about some things that you have to be careful with, but he’s in great hands — some of the best doctors in the world,” Showalter said. “At some point, he’ll rejoin us and then we’ll start talking about baseball.”
Nolan Reimold is out of the lineup for the fourth straight game but says his neck is improving after taking early batting practice on Wednesday afternoon. The left fielder is still experiencing stiffness in trying to move his head up and down, but his side-to-side movement has improved.
Second on the team with five home runs, Reimold is confident he will avoid the 15-day disabled list and return to the lineup sooner rather than later.
“I think we are being cautious,” Reimold said. “[The pain] was there when I played in Anaheim and then it just tightened up real bad after the game and the next morning. I think they want to make sure I’m right and can come back and remain back and not set myself back any further.”
Japanese pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada will receive a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum regarding the ligament damage in his pitching elbow. Showalter confirmed the two options at this point of potentially resting and rehabbing the injury or undergoing a surgical procedure that would presumably end his season.
The Orioles manager had good news on left-handed pitcher Zach Britton, saying his rehab on the left shoulder is “right on schedule.” Britton is close to pitching bullpen sessions from the mound and has not experienced any setbacks since receiving platelet-rich plasma therapy in March.
Pitcher Jason Berken has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take second baseman Robert Andino’s spot on the 25-man roster. As revealed on Tuesday, Andino has been placed on the paternity leave list to be with his wife as the couple gave birth to a daughter, Amarise Hazel, on Wednesday.
Andino joked with Showalter that the couple is now “three and out” after welcoming their third child and that he is planning to purchase a shotgun to keep the boys away since he now has a daughter. The second baseman also celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday.
Making three starts for the Tides, Berken would be on regular rest and is available to pitch multiple innings if needed over the next day or two before he presumably returns to Norfolk upon Andino’s return to the club.
“I’ll be in the pen,” said Berken, who credited a new commitment to his changeup in explaining his 0.60 earned run average in 15 innings at Norfolk. “I’m just here to pitch any time they need me, whether it’s one or five [innings].”
Catcher Taylor Teagarden remains in Sarasota and will receive a third epidural injection in his back. The organization hopes this will resolve the issue before needing to explore other treatment options.
Here are tonight’s lineups…
SS Yunel Escobar
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Jose Bautista
1B Adam Lind
LF Eric Thames
3B Edwin Encarnacion
DH Brett Lawrie
CF Colby Rasmus
C J.P. Arencibia
SP Kyle Drabek (2-0, 2.00 ERA)
LF Endy Chavez
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Flaherty
SP Jason Hammel (2-0, 2.37 ERA)