Gonzalez a candidate to start Saturday

BOSTON - In the latest installment of “As the Rotation Turns,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter suggested today that Miguel Gonzalez could start Saturday afternoon against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Gonzalez left Sunday’s start in Toronto in the sixth inning with a strained right groin, and he experienced some mild discomfort while playing catch yesterday at Fenway Park. However, he’s feeling much better today and is scheduled to throw a light bullpen session on Thursday.

Showalter will decide later in the day whether Gonzalez or Bud Norris makes the start. They’re the two primary candidates.

“Miguel feels pretty good today,” Showalter said. “It’s pretty encouraging. He might be an option for us Saturday. I was surprised. So was Richie (Bancells). That was encouraging. I wasn’t expecting that.”

Norris threw a bullpen session yesterday to test his sore right elbow and played catch this afternoon. He won’t throw again before Saturday.

“I felt good today,” Norris said. “Nothing flared up this morning, which was a good sign. Buck kind of left it in my hands. I hope it goes well and go from there. One day at a time still.”

Norris couldn’t place odds on his chances of starting Saturday against Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb.

“It’s a hard one to play with, especially this late in the year and the way I’ve been feeling and so forth,” he said. “But I came over here for a reason. I want to pitch and be on the field. I’m intrigued to see how it feels today, especially after the bullpen. If everything goes well today, I hope that’s the best-case scenario.”

The competitive side of Norris is pushing him back on the mound, but he also understands that he has to be careful with his elbow.

“That’s exactly what it is,” Norris said. “I came over in a trade to be part of this team and help this rotation down the stretch, and that’s what I want to do. That’s what I’ve been dreaming of doing for four years in the big leagues, making a postseason run, so I have to take it day by day and be smart about it for the long-term reasons and the short-term reasons, too.”

Jason Hammel will start Friday night’s series opener against the Rays. Scott Feldman will start Sunday, followed by Wei-Yin Chen on Monday. The Rays are listing David Price, Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Archer as their starters.

Reliever Darren O’Day has arrived at Fenway Park and is available to pitch tonight.

“He felt good today. We wouldn’t bring him if we didn’t think he was an option for us,” Showalter said.

“He said today he feels good, good enough to pitch. It’s pretty simple this time of year. Yes or no.”

Shameless plug alert: Tune into “O’s Xtra” tonight at 6:30 p.m. on MASN for my interview with Tommy Hunter.

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