The Orioles are indulging in their next-to-last off-day of the regular season. The fifth in August, leaving them with one in September.
Who made out this schedule?
They were off Thursday and they're idle again today. Was that really necessary?
The roster figures to undergo some changes this week, beginning with Wilson Betemit's arrival in Boston.
Is Betemit ready? Probably not. He's not moving with 100 percent efficiency. But his rehab assignment ends today and the Orioles don't have much choice.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette planned to contact Betemit's agent, Fern Cuza, but the Orioles' collective hands are tied. They would have to find a clever way to keep Betemit in limbo until Sept. 1 and add him to the expanded roster, which is their preference. Not sure how they'd pull that off.
My first thought was, why didn't the Orioles wait a little longer before sending Betemit on his rehab assignment? Why not time it so that it ended when rosters expanded? Well, they weren't allowed to wait. Once Betemit felt that he was ready to start playing, once his agent believed that the veteran was ready, the Orioles had to assign him to an affiliate.
At least, that's how it's been explained to me.
Betemit went 1-for-12 with a double, run scored and five strikeouts in three games at Triple-A Norfolk. He batted .290/.353/.339 with three doubles, 10 RBIs, six walks and 15 strikeouts in 17 rehab games.
Ready or not...
You can be sure that the Orioles want Betemit on their bench. They want him to serve as their left-handed designated hitter. He led the team with a .302 average against right-handed pitching last season. But he's got to be able to run.
To quote the late Syd Thrift, when asked one spring training whether Albert Belle could still make the opening day roster if his degenerative hip condition prevented him from running: "This ain't country round cat."
To this day, I'm not fully certain what he meant, but I'll assume that country round cat is a game that doesn't require the participants to run.
If Betemit is activated from the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday, he'll sit against Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront. He'll sit Thursday against left-hander Jon Lester. He'll probably start Wednesday against right-hander John Lackey.
The Orioles have room for Betemit on the 40-man roster, but room must be created on the 25-man. Danny Valencia figures to be shuttled again to Norfolk, though his bat would come in handy against the two southpaws.
Steve Pearce is the fourth outfielder on this club. Somebody has to do it. But if he's starting in left field against a southpaw, who's the DH?
It's not a perfect situation.
Betemit could have company. Kevin Gausman is expected to be recalled before Sept. 1. He started last night for Norfolk, going three innings and throwing 40 pitches. He wasn't scheduled to pitch until tonight, but he took Tsuyoshi Wada's turn.
How would the Orioles make room for Gausman on the 25-man roster? Showalter suggested last week that a starter could be optioned, then recalled on Sept. 1.