Manager Buck Showalter fielded a variety of topics during today’s pregame media session.
Showalter spent part of the afternoon watching Jason Hammel’s simulated game.
“Things went well for Ham today,” Showalter said. “He was up throwing. What did he have, 58? He took a few more fielding his position, so he had a little over 60. Three-plus innings. We’ll see how he is tomorrow, and if things go well, we’ll see him pitching on a rehab assignment on the first, and that would probably be a maximum of five innings. If he feels good tomorrow and things go well with one of our affiliates on the first, then we could start considering him on the sixth.”
Why does Hammel need to go on a rehab assignment before the Orioles activate him?
“I don’t care what you did in the bullpen, what you did in the sim game, frankly what you do in Frederick, Norfolk or Bowie, this is another level,” Showalter said. “It’s like hitters. You see guys go down on a rehab and go 0-for-15 and come up here and wear it out. There’s a different level of intensity that you can never mask, that you can never simulate pitching in a major league game unless you’re pitching in a major league game. There are just things that you can get in a game that you can’t get in a sim game or a bullpen session - the anthem, the adrenaline. He’s been out of this for a while.
“It’s one thing to get him and Troy (Patton) back, it’s another thing to know what level of performance you’re going to get. It’s not a given that just because they’re back, they’re going to pick up right where they left off. As many things as we can get a cheat sheet on before he comes back here, that’s important. That’s why we’re trying to add some depth. I don’t think anyone here assumes that Ham’s going to pick up where he left off.”
The Orioles would like to get Hammel up to six innings if he starts for them on Sept. 6.
“Best-case scenario is to get him back around the six-inning mark,” Showalter said.
Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair have spoken to left-hander Joe Saunders, who’s headed to Baltimore today.
“We expect him to be in uniform tomorrow for sure and hopefully get into the great state of Maryland tonight,” Showalter said. “He had to do a lot of things. He threw a lot before he left there. I’ll have an opportunity to talk to him tomorrow or maybe late tonight if I can run him down.”
Saunders will pitch Wednesday or Thursday. The smart money is on Wednesday.
“I have talked to him about it and he knows which two days, one of which he’s going to pitch in, and he said that fits real well,” Showalter said. “The main thing is I want him to get here and get his feet on the ground Tuesday for a day, be with the club, be active in the clubhouse, on the bench, so you could see him Wednesday or Thursday.”
Wilson Betemit took batting practice today and will do it again on Tuesday.
“If that goes well, he’ll go out on a rehab assignment on Wednesday, play at least two days and activate him on the first at the earliest,” Showalter said.
Showalter won’t commit to a five- or six-man rotation.
“Could be seven or eight the way you all look at it. We’ve got versatility,” he said.
“Obviously, if someone’s pitching well, we’ll ride that.”
So, why Wei-Yin Chen tonight and Chris Tillman tomorrow, instead of the other way around?
“You might be at the point where you might be reaching the point of diminishing return on (Chen’s) rest,” Showalter replied. “I wanted to get him back out there. I thought Tilly could use an extra day, but I think you’ll see some guys stay in turn for the most part, and we might do some matchups. Depends on what our needs in the bullpen are.
“I think our guys understand the position we’re in and how this, this is something we’ve talked about, and how we’re going to go forward with the 30-odd games we have left.”
Steve Johnson remains on the 25-man roster, and he remains a consideration for the rotation.
“Still an option for us,” Showalter said. “He’s not available in the bullpen tonight unless we had a real long game, some extra innings. Stevie’s presented himself well against Seattle and Toronto.”
Is Miguel Gonzalez the long man?
“I didn’t say that,” Showalter replied. “No. We’ll get Miguel in there at some point, I’m sure.”
Jake Arrieta figures to be the long man tonight. And he could be optioned following the game.
“I was a little tentative about pitching him on three days rest,” Showalter said. “He had a work day. I’m glad he got that fourth day, so this is actually his day to pitch.
“I think you’ll see us obviously make a move on the club after the game to make room for Joe. At least one.”
Adam Jones is homerless in his last 104 at-bats, but he’s 4-for-12 with three homers lifetime against White Sox left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Robert Andino is 4-for-6 vs. Liriano.
With a win tonight, the Orioles would move 13 games above .500 for the second time this season. They were 27-14 on May 19. Showalter would improve to 173-173 since taking over as manager on Aug. 3, 2010.