BALTIMORE — Barring something unforeseen such as a player slipping on the wet dugout steps or the mascot eating some bad birdseed, the Orioles will avoid making a roster move for the first time in a week.
Beginning with last Monday, the club has made 22 individual roster moves, optioning five players to the minors, selecting the contract of five, recalling three, placing three on the 15-day disabled list, sending two to the 60-day disabled list, and designating three for assignment. Needless to say, it’s been difficult to track as a reporter or a fan over the last week.
The Orioles welcome the New York Yankees to town for a brief two-game set with Jason Hammel making his return to the mound for the first time in nine days after a sore right knee forced him to be pushed back a few days. With the bullpen having thrown 5 1/3 innings in Sunday’s loss, manager Buck Showalter would prefer to see a lengthy outing from Hammel, who has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his six starts this year.
While the return of Hammel is a piece of good news for a club stricken with injuries in recent days, the latest update on left fielder Nolan Reimold did not sound very encouraging. After receiving an epidural injection for the bulging disc in his neck a few days ago, Reimold has not felt any significant improvement, according to Showalter.
Reimold could receive a series of three injections, but the training staff was hoping Reimold would respond more favorably to the first shot. He is eligible to return from the disabled list on Wednesday, but Showalter’s comments before the start of the New York series did not suggest an imminent return for the outfielder.
“He doesn’t seem to be markedly better,” Showalter said. “Initially, that’s part of a three-shot series, but some people recover and get great results from just the first one or the second one. There doesn’t seem to be the marked improvement we had hoped that Monday would bring.”
In Reimold’s absence, Showalter has used several different players at the top of the order, including the now-injured Endy Chavez, Ryan Flaherty, and Xavier Avery, who made his major league debut on Sunday and was in the leadoff spot again on Monday. Second baseman Robert Andino has hit in the top spot in the order against a few left-handed starters this season, and Showalter said he’s considered moving him into the leadoff spot on a more permanent basis — at least until Reimold returns.
“Robert is a weapon for us down below, and it stretches our lineup out,” Showalter said. “I’ve looked at the numbers where he’s concerned leading off and hitting in other places. I’m not saying it won’t happen — it could. But, I’d like to exhaust other possibilities before we have to go there. We’re still holding out hope that [Brian Roberts] comes back and takes back over that spot at some point.”
Andino carries a .328 on-base percentage this season and is a career .238 hitter in 178 plate appearances while hitting in the top spot in the order. He has batted .267 in 568 career plate appearances in the No. 9 slot.
The Orioles are still awaiting word on what the doctors make of the MRI on reliever Matt Lindstrom’s right middle finger. Lindstrom was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday after feeling a pop in the finger in the final game of the Texas series on Thursday.
Tommy Hunter will make the start in Kansas City on Wednesday, meaning Dana Eveland has been moved to the bullpen to serve as a much-needed long reliever for the time being.
Triple-A Norfolk pitcher Joel Pineiro missed his scheduled start on Sunday due to soreness in his shoulder capsule, but Showalter expressed optimism that it wasn’t considered a serious concern.
And in the latest chapter in a bitterly disappointing career for former first-round pick Billy Rowell, a 50-game suspension has been handed down to the 23-year-old for violating the minor league drug prevention and treatment program for the second time. He becomes the third minor league player in the organization to be suspended this year, joining catchers Brian Ward and Michael Ohlman.
The Orioles were attempting to make Rowell a pitcher in Sarasota, but there were few indications much progress was being made in that project prior to the suspension. He is listed on short-season Single-A Aberdeen’s roster, meaning his suspension will not begin until the start of the season in June.
Here are Monday night’s lineups…
SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Alex Rodgriuez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
RF Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
C Russell Martin
SP Ivan Nova (4-1, 5.02 ERA)
LF Xavier Avery
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
DH Nick Johnson
2B Robert Andino
SP Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.09 ERA)
Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Buck Showalter and remember to follow us on Twitter for live updates and analysis from Camden Yards throughout the evening.