BALTIMORE — With Brian Matusz taking the hill and desperately needing a quality start to aid his confidence, the Orioles lineup will be closer to full strength as they look for the three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
After responding well to a batting practice session on Wednesday afternoon, left fielder Nolan Reimold returns to the leadoff spot after a four-game absence. Reimold remains tied for second on the club with five home runs and has homered in five of the last six games in which he’s played dating back to April 13.
“He’s going to give it a shot tonight,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s ready to go. See how that goes. He did a lot of work [Wednesday] and didn’t have any setbacks. I think we’ve done everything we can to go forward on that.”
Jim Johnson is improving and could be sent home from the hospital either late Thursday or early Friday morning. While Showalter could not specify a specific illness stemming from the bacterial issue, doctors have ruled out a number of more severe possibilities.
The Baltimore closer is now attempting to hold down solid food and has been hospitalized since Monday night with flu-like symptoms.
In his absence, 26-year-old Pedro Strop has converted saves in each of the last games but will likely be unavailable for the series finale. Showalter wouldn’t tip his hand regarding Strop or who he would use in a save situation on Thursday, but the most likely candidates would be Matt Lindstrom, Luis Ayala or even Troy Patton, depending on match-ups in the ninth inning.
“I do know what we’re going to do, but I kind of like having some bullets in the back,” Showalter said.
Second baseman Robert Andino will fly back to Baltimore on Friday morning and is expected to return to the lineup for the start of a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics this weekend.
Updating the Tsuyoshi Wada situation, the Japanese pitcher will fly to Los Angeles this weekend to get a second opinion on his injured elbow from Dr. Lewis Yocum. Wada revealed to reporters that Tommy John surgery is a possibility, confirming there is a tear in the elbow ligament.
Here are tonight’s lineups…
SS Yunel Escobar
3B Brett Lawrie
RF Jose Bautista
1B Edwin Encarnacion
LF Eric Thames
DH Ben Francisco
CF Rajai Davis
C J.P. Arencibia
2B Omar Vizquel
SP Drew Hutchison (1-0, 8.44 ERA)
LF Nolan Reimold
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Chris Davis
3B Mark Reynolds
1B Nick Johnson
2B Ryan Flaherty
SP Brian Matusz (0-3, 7.98 ERA)