The Orioles will activate Miguel Gonzalez from the 15-day disabled list this afternoon and hand him the ball tonight at Camden Yards.
Nobody is asking me about Gonzalez, but I'm getting plenty of inquires about other players. And I keep getting them. The same ones. On this blog and via Twitter (@MASNroch). That's why I created "Because You Asked" and all of the sequels.
You ask, I answer. You ask again, I answer again. It's the School of Roch dance. And as always, please keep your hands where I can see them.
"Who's next in line to close?"
Jim Johnson. Followed by Jim Johnson. There really isn't a backup closer. Pedro Strop was once viewed as sort of a closer-in-waiting, but I'm more inclined to go with Darren O'Day. But manager Buck Showalter isn't ready to make a change. If there's a save situation tonight, Johnson is getting the ball.
"Why doesn't Buck have someone warm up as soon as he brings Johnson into the game?"
Because managers don't want to get relievers up, get them "hot" and then not use them. There's an expression for it, sort of like what the neighbor's dog might do to your leg. It happens sometimes if a pitcher gets out of a jam, but you can make a reliever unavailable the next day by doing it too much. Warming up night after night can be taxing on a pitcher's arm, and you can burn out your bullpen without actually bringing guys into a game. It's also a good way to start a bullpen revolt.
"When will the Orioles call up Kevin Gausman?"
There's no firm timetable. The Orioles don't have an exact date in mind. It could happen next month. It could happen after the All-Star break. They want him to continue pitching at Double-A Bowie - refining that slider to go along with his plus fastball and plus changeup - and build up professional innings. I will say that he could arrive sooner than anticipated if the rotation goes through another miserable stretch.
"What about Jonathan Schoop?"
At the very least, Schoop should be a September call-up. Obviously, he could make it here sooner if he's putting up numbers that warrant a promotion, and if the Orioles have a need in their infield. Right now, it benefits Schoop to play every day at Triple-A Norfolk. And what happened with Manny Machado last summer has nothing to do with Schoop. The Orioles were desperate to improve their defense at third base. That's why Machado came up.
"Any updates on Dylan Bundy?"
Like, what he had for breakfast? What T-shirt he pulled out of his dresser?
"No, a health update."
That's not a question.
"Ugh! Do you have a health update on Bundy?"
No. There's nothing to update. He's supposed to be shut down for six weeks after receiving the platelet rich plasma injection in his right arm on April 29. I won't do the math, but it hasn't been six weeks. He tweeted a line from a movie a few nights ago, challenging his followers to name the flick, so I guess that qualifies as an update. He's a fan of "50 First Dates."
"How much longer can the Orioles keep Ryan Flaherty on the roster?"
Oops. This is an old one.
"Did the Orioles really sign Ronnie Paulino again?"
Yes. To a minor league deal. They're in the process of securing a work visa for him, and he'll report to extended spring training. Meanwhile, his car already arrived and is on a progression.
"Is that your last Ronnie Paulino car joke?"
"Why don't the Orioles play Alexi Casilla more?"
Because they only face CC Sabathia a few times. Actually, Showalter explained that he likes having Casilla on the bench as a possible late-inning pinch-runner, and because of his versatility. With Flaherty gone, the Orioles are short on middle infield reserves. But I agree that his speed, basestealing ability and defense could be put to better use. He made two plays last night that, if nothing else, should keep him in the lineup.
"Will Brian Matusz get any starts?"
Not in the foreseeable future. Showalter likes Matusz in his current role. Matusz wants to start, but he's so valuable as a left-handed match-up guy, he's sort of trapped. Also, he isn't stretched out enough to even be a consideration at this point.
"Will Tommy Hunter get any starts?"
Not in the foreseeable future. Showalter likes Hunter in his current role. If anyone leaves the bullpen to join the rotation, even temporarily, I'd bet on Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland.
"What about moving Manny Machado to shortstop and J.J. Hardy to second base?"
Machado is giving the Orioles plus defense at third and Hardy always has provided plus defense at short. He won a Gold Glove last season, as I recall. The Orioles have absolutely no plans to shift Hardy to a position he's never played. And defense at second wasn't a problem with Flaherty, and it certainly isn't a problem with Casilla.
"Is Manny Machado still eligible for Rookie of the Year?"
Nope. I found this explanation in a Google search: According to MLB, a rookie is "a player who hasn't accumulated 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in previous seasons and hasn't spent 45 or more days on 25-man active rosters, not including times when the active list is expanded to 40."
"What's the timetable for Henry Urrutia to reach the majors?"
You mean "Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia?" Not sure we've reached the point where he can just be "Henry Urrutia." Anyway, he hasn't played in Bowie's last two games, for whatever reason. And he's not ready for the majors. There's been talk of moving him up to Norfolk, though Xavier Avery may beat him there. Urrutia must work on his defense and his running. He's more of a loper, if you can picture such a thing. Needs to improve his technique. He's still raw in some phases of his game. Keep in mind he's coming off a long layoff that included an unplanned vacation at the Haiti Marriott.
"Did you win any money on the Preakness?"
Yes. Last-place money in our pool. My horse just crossed the finish line about 10 minutes ago. Apparently, he got lost. Or he hadn't secured his work visa.