Manager Buck Showalter has been pretty good at blindsiding reporters this year.
We gather on the field in spring training or in his office or in the auxiliary clubhouse, and he brings up an injury or medical issue that we didn't anticipate.
Brian Matusz has a wart? Justin Duchscherer felt a twinge? Brian Roberts has a stiff neck? Derrek Lee has a sore wrist? Lee has a sore foot? Matusz got hit on the arm by a line drive? J.J. Hardy has pain in his lower ribcage? Roberts went to the hospital with stomach pains? Chris Tillman has a sore groin?
Tillman's issue was dropped in our laps - so to speak - following yesterday's postponement. We rushed downstairs to find out how the rotation would be impacted, and were told that Tillman was being skipped. Brad Bergesen starts tonight and Jake Arrieta takes the mound tomorrow.
It must not be too serious if he was still slated to pitch tomorrow before the weather infringed, but the Orioles are finding a silver lining in the black clouds. No game last night and Monday's off-day allows them to be cautious with Tillman, who might not pitch again until next Saturday. The Orioles won't need a fifth starter until then, so he'll be available out of the bullpen.
Mike Ballard apparently would have joined the rotation if Tillman went on the disabled list. Instead, he lost to Gwinnett last night, falling to 1-2 with a 4.85 ERA.
Ballard walked the first two batters he faced last night, and gave up back-to-back hits to open the second inning. He was charged with four runs and seven hits, with four walks, in four innings.
Putting the Yankees in front of him this weekend would have been quite a risk, but it's not like the Orioles are loaded with options.
The rest of Norfolk's rotation consists of Ryan Drese, Chorye Spoone, Rick VandenHurk and Steve Johnson. Spoone and Johnson have made only two starts above Double-A. You won't find an ERA below 6.75 in that foursome.
We're not talking deep depth here.
I'm told that the projection on Matusz's return from the disabled list has always been the middle of May, so we're not quite there yet. He hasn't even thrown off a mound, though he's expected to do so on Tuesday and Thursday next week. And Duchscherer isn't eligible to return before May 30.
The Orioles have sent scouts all over baseball's map in search of potential help for the back of the rotation. Considering that Tillman began the season as the Orioles' No. 2 starter, they could use a boost in the front of it, too.
Shameless plug alert: I'm joining Tom Davis and Dave Johnson today on Wall to Wall Baseball from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on MASN.