BALTIMORE — After years of battling one another to escape the cellar in the American League East, it looks peculiar to see the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays sitting tied atop the division.
Even if it is only the second week of May.
Of course, the Rays have become a household name among the elite teams of the American League over the last five seasons as the Orioles attempt to copy their secrets in competing with the fat payrolls of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
After a difficult series with the Texas Rangers in which they lost three of four games, the Orioles will send journeyman Dana Eveland to the hill in his first start with the club. The left-hander was 3-2 with a 2.21 earned run average in 36 2/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk this season after failing to make the 25-man roster out of spring training.
The Orioles are Eveland’s seventh big league club after the 28-year-old previously had stints with Milwaukee, Arizona, Oakland, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and, most recently, the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 59 career starts in the majors, Eveland is 17-22 with a 5.38 ERA, including 19 quality starts.
To clear room for Eveland on the 25-man roster, the Orioles have placed relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom on the 15-day disabled list and minor league infielder Zelous Wheeler has been designated for assignment to create a spot for Eveland on the 40-man roster.
The right-handed reliever said after the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader he heard a pop in the middle finger of his pitching hand but didn’t believe it to be serious. Apparently, it was serious enough to sideline him despite a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings (13 appearances) this season.
“My middle finger, I kind of felt a pop on it on one of my two-seam fastballs, but it’s nothing serious at all,” Lindstrom said after Thursday’s outing. “Just a little soreness in my middle finger.”
Before Friday’s game, Jason Hammel was still listed as the expected starter for Monday when the New York Yankees come to town. The right-hander said he was still optimistic about that timetable for his next start after being scratched for Thursday’s start with right knee soreness.
Injured outfielder Nolan Reimold (herniated disc) finally received his epidural injection on Friday after it was delayed several days due to illness. Manager Buck Showalter had previously hoped Reimold would be able to go on a rehab assignment on Monday, but the recovery time from the injection will prevent that, likely meaning he will not be ready to return from the disabled list when eligible on Wednesday.
Former Oriole Luke Scott makes his return to Baltimore this weekend as he’s been on a tear for the Rays in the absence of Evan Longoria. Hitting cleanup and serving as the designated hitter on Friday night, Scott has seven home runs and 22 runs batted in while hitting .247 in his first 93 at-bats.
After spending four seasons with the Orioles, Scott holds no ill will toward the club after it elected to non-tender him in what would have been his final year of arbitration with the club. Scott missed the final two months of the 2011 season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
“I have just tremendous memories from here that I cherish,” Scott said in the Tampa Bay clubhouse prior to the series opener. “I am very thankful for them.”
Japanese pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada underwent Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow on Friday and issued a statement following the procedure:
“The procedure went as planned and Dr. [Lewis] Yocum felt good about how it went. He predicts a full recovery. I’m glad to have this over with and look forward to beginning my rehabilitation so I can get back to pitching for the Orioles as soon as possible.”
Here are Friday night’s lineups…
RF Ben Zobrist
1B Carlos Pena
CF B.J. Upton
DH Luke Scott
3B Jeff Keppinger
LF Matt Joyce
SS Sean Rodriguez
C Jose Molina
2B Elliot Johnson
SP Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.75 ERA)
3B Ryan Flaherty
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
LF Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
DH Nick Johnson
2B Robert Andino
SP Dana Eveland (first 2012 start)
Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear Luke Scott’s conversation with WNST.net’s Glenn Clark on Friday afternoon as well as Buck Showalter’s comments prior to the start of a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays HERE.