The Orioles seem confident that reliever Francisco Rodriguez will avoid the disabled list despite leaving tonight’s game with a strained right groin. However, they’re expected to make a roster move to add another pitcher for their bullpen.
“We’re probably going to have to get an arm here tomorrow,” said manager Buck Showalter following a 6-3 loss to the Rockies. “We’re getting a little short down there, especially with probably not wanting to push Frankie tomorrow. We’ll have to wait and see what we have tomorrow. Probably going to need to get an arm here.”
As I wrote earlier, Josh Stinson was held back from his side session today with Triple-A Norfolk after going six innings on Tuesday. He’s on the 40-man roster, he’s pitching well and he’s rested enough to provide a few innings out of the bullpen. That’s my guess, but I’ve been wrong in the past.
Rodriguez experienced some discomfort while pitching in Arizona this week. He told Showalter that he had a similar injury a few years ago and was able to work through it without going on the disabled list.
“See how it is,” Showalter said. “He had something similar in 2011 and said he was OK. I think he was trying to get it before it got bad, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
“He told Billy (Castro) that he felt it a little bit, and it went away, in Arizona. Kind of a crampy thing supposedly. Although we’ve all heard that before, so it’s something that’s been there a little bit. First time he’s really brought it up tonight.
“I think being the veteran that he is, he’s trying to... He had it before, he said, in 2011. Felt very similar, and he was able to pitch through it. Just wrapped it a little better. Hopefully, we can get lucky with it.”
The Orioles may have to go with a short bench while adding another pitcher this weekend. There isn’t much flexibility in the bullpen. It’s just a guess, but Henry Urrutia could be optioned.
Wei-Yin Chen was cruising tonight before allowing a run in the fifth, another run in the sixth and two in the seventh.
“He was good. He was good again,” Showalter said. “I think on Billy’s chart, he had 30 or 31 foul balls. That’s amazing to me. I think that was tough on him, so you’ve got to tip your hat to them. But he gave us a good chance to win.
“I thought one of the bigger plays of the game was the ball that Matty (Wieters) hit with the bases loaded and (runners) moving. We couldn’t buy a break there. Matty’s had about five line drives in the last three games caught. They didn’t catch that last one though.”
The last one resulted in Wieters’ 17th home run, a drive to center field in the ninth.
What about Chen’s struggles this season after the fifth inning? He’s allowed 17 of his 34 runs in the sixth through the eighth.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to them,” Showalter said. “They had 30-something foul balls. Who’s doing well there, them or Wei-Yin? He’s solid. He’s pitching well. Just not much breathing room for him. He’s pitching well. He was working on an extra day’s rest today. He pitched well. Whether it’s the sixth or seventh or fifth or eighth, we’re going to have to get other outs. We’re going to have to do other things.
“Wei-Yin was the reason why we were doing as well as we were. We had some opportunities we didn’t quite cash in on. You know how leading off with a home run, you kind of go, ‘Hmmm.’ I asked Nate (McLouth) if he could save that for the next at-bat. I haven’t had much luck with leadoff home runs. I’ll take them, though.”
As usual, the Orioles didn’t offer Chen much run support.
“It’s cyclical,” Showalter said. “People aren’t going, ‘Who’s pitching for us tonight? Oh, gosh, we feel pressure.’ I don’t think it changes, the mentality of it. You know as well as I do that something happens every year. You don’t want it to. There always seems to be somebody. But Wei-Yin’s throwing the ball well. We all know he’s deserving of a little bit better fate.”
The offense remains erratic, failing to produce a hit after the third inning until Wieters homered.
“It has kind of been up and down,” Showalter said. “We all search for that everybody’s swinging the bat well every night. That’s why we work and that’s why they work. We’ve got some guys with a really good track record. We’ll get back there at some point and we hope it’s tomorrow. Every day is an opportunity for that to start.”
Jim Johnson faced four batters in the ninth and gave up Todd Helton’s home run.
“He pitched real well except for the one pitch that Helton squared up,” Showalter said. “I wanted to get Jimmy back out there and he pitched pretty well, I thought, except for the one hitter. And he was in a good position there.”
Update: The Orioles have optioned Urrutia to Triple-A Norfolk and will announce a corresponding roster move before Saturday’s game.
That’s one correct prediction. If the team calls up Stinson, it’ll be 2-for-2.
Urrutia batted .269/.269/.308 (14-for-52) in 21 games for the Orioles since making his major league debut on July 20 at Texas.