BALTIMORE — Fresh from a day off before a stretch of 13 games in 13 days that will lead them into the All-Star break, the Orioles will be faced with interesting roster decisions to conclude the first half.
Reliever Matt Lindstrom is back in Baltimore and is expected to be activated prior to Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. On the 15-day disabled list since May 11 with a partially torn ligament in his middle finger, Lindstrom will be examined by team doctors and hopes to pick up where he left off after allowing only two earned runs in his first 13 appearances (14 innings) this season.
However, who he replaces on the 25-man roster remains up in the air with left-hander Dana Eveland returning to the team on Tuesday night. The Orioles planned to place Eveland on the paternity leave list to buy some time on a roster decision, but the long reliever is back sooner than expected.
Further complicating the decision is the Orioles’ need for a fifth starter on Saturday, with Tommy Hunter the most likely candidate to receive the ball in the third of a four-game set against the Cleveland Indians. With Eveland not available against the Angels on Tuesday, Hunter was available to pitch in the bullpen.
If Hunter is need in the bullpen, Saturday’s starter would likely come from Triple-A Norfolk. Miguel Gonzalez is slated to pitch Saturday for the Tides and left-hander Zach Britton made the start for Norfolk on Tuesday night.
Aside from electing to go without a long man in the bullpen, the only other relief pitcher you would even consider shipping out would be former closer Kevin Gregg, but his status is well documented with a $5.8 million salary owed to him in 2012. With the trade deadline just over a month away, the Orioles would like to see if they can move Gregg — understanding they’d likely have to pay some of his salary — and at least get something modest in return.
The most realistic option might be to go with a shorter bench with the club not having another day off until the All-Star break. Infielder Steve Tolleson would be the most likely player to be optioned in that scenario. However, the Orioles will travel to the West Coast next week, making it more difficult to summon someone from the minor leagues in the event of an injury to a position player.
Markakis not swinging yet
Right fielder Nick Markakis had hoped to begin swinging a bat on Monday, but he’ll have to continue waiting impatiently.
The surgical incision on his right hand hasn’t closed completely, and the club wants it to be fully healed before he begins taking swings. Manager Buck Showalter hopes Markakis can begin doing so Friday, meaning his chances of returning before the All-Star break are growing dimmer.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s the time the body needs to heal up,” Markakis said. “You can’t rush it. It’s just a matter of healing up and getting this incision closed up all the way. It’s close, a couple more days — we’ll see.”
Though Markakis and Showalter both expressed hope that the outfielder would be able to return by the final series of the first half in Anaheim, he will need to go on a minor league rehab assignment. With the 28-year-old not beginning to swing until Friday at the earliest, a return before the start of the second half seems very ambitious.
Markakis would begin with dry swings before progressing to tee work and live batting practice. He would then likely play in at least a couple minor league games before rejoining the 25-man roster.
“It’s going to be close on the All-Star break,” Showalter said. “I don’t see us getting him back before the Anaheim series at their place.”
Outfielder Endy Chavez is making little progress on the hamstring injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list on June 14. He is currently rehabbing in Sarasota.
A forgotten man after dealing with a back injury since spring training, catcher Taylor Teagarden is ready to go on a rehab assignment. He will begin playing with the Gulf Coast League team and could be activated shortly after the All-Star break if all goes well.
Showalter said outfielder Nolan Reimold had already regained strength in his arm and hand just a few hours after Monday’s neck surgery. He also revealed the herniated disc may have stemmed from an April game in Chicago in which Reimold dove into the stands after a foul ball.