Notes on Wilkerson, Hays, Ortiz, Mullins and more (O's down 5-2)

SEATTLE - Infielder Steve Wilkerson is meeting up with the Orioles in St. Petersburg, Fla. for the weekend series against the Rays. However, the plan is to ease him into competition.

Wilkerson was on the seven-day disabled list at Triple-A Norfolk with a hamstring injury and he won't be rushed back onto the field. He hasn't played since Aug. 22.

The Orioles were hoping that one of their minor league affiliates would qualify for the playoffs, opening the possibility of Wilkerson getting into some games before returning to the majors, but he needs more time to recover.

"Until I get my arms around that, I can't shed a whole lot of light on it," said manager Buck Showalter. "He's making progress and he shouldn't be too far away. I'm hoping soon."

Wilkerson would be used at a variety of positions while the Orioles continue to groom him for a super-utility role.

"You feel comfortable playing him at six positions," Showalter said.

Wilkerson has been assigned to the Glendale Desert Dogs roster in the Arizona Fall League, which allows him to gain some at-bats that he's lost because of a 50-game suspension and oblique and hamstring injuries.

Double-A Bowie outfielder Austin Hays also is on the Glendale roster, but it's a tentative assignment because of lingering soreness in his ankle.

"It's not doing as well as they hoped at this point," Showalter said.

Mark Trumbo is expected to undergo knee surgery on Friday in Baltimore.

Hess-Throwing-Gray-Sidebar.jpgRight-hander David Hess will start Saturday night against the Rays. The spot had been labeled as TBD.

Alex Cobb works on normal rest by starting Sunday despite Thursday's off-day. Rookie left-hander Josh Rogers would have taken his turn but now is pushed back or skipped.

Showalter will check on Cobb later today before confirming the Sunday start.

Luis Ortiz is waiting to make his major league debut, whether it's out of the bullpen or in the rotation. He watched last night's game from the dugout.

"I sat down with him yesterday, got to know him a little bit better," Showalter said. "I know a lot of people who have had him before with Milwaukee and Texas, and have an idea and you just try to get your own impressions.

"Think about it, it's a 22-year-old man who showed up in the big leagues last night. I stole a few glances down at him yesterday and wondered what was going through his mind. His fiancé's here. It's a great time in their life.

"He's going to pitch. I would like to pitch him out of the 'pen once before we think about starting him. That's what I'd rather do. But he pitched on the 1st, had 91 pitches, he had a work day on the 3rd, so probably not tonight, but don't hold me to it."

Cedric Mullins came off the bench last night in the seventh inning, delivered a pinch-hit single against right-hander Adam Warren and scored the go-ahead run on Jonathan Villar's single. He was on the bench with the Mariners starting left-hander Wade LeBlanc.

There haven't been any discussions with Showalter on his usage, on how he totaled 66 plate appearances against right-handers before tonight and 21 versus lefties.

"No, but the situation comes where I have the chance to play, I'm going to make the most of it," Mullins said. "Like yesterday it was a situational thing. A right-hander came in and they felt like I was the guy needed for that moment, and I was able to come through."

Mullins batted again in the eighth against left-hander James Pazos and drew a walk with the count full after Mariners catcher David Freitas dropped a pop up behind home plate.

"Yeah, someone was looking out for me at that point," Mullins said. "That was kind of how I felt at that moment. Just continue to work a good at-bat and it resulted in a walk."

Any success against a left-hander is important for Mullins as the Orioles, to use one of manager Showalter's favorite expressions, try to get their arms around him. Can he be an everyday player in the majors? Can he continue to be a switch-hitter?

"It's huge," Mullins said. "Just continuing to develop a plan and I'm always working in the cage to just kind of solidify a foundation so I can continue to get better at it. I've made improvements over the years and it's just a matter of continuing to strive for it."

Mullins' sporadic playing time also is born out of caution after he experienced soreness in his hip, and with the organization's need to evaluate outfielder John Andreoli. Mullins said he feels good.

"Everything's fine," he said. "Just continue to stretch it out and make sure we stay away from anything else possible happening to it, but my body feels fine."

Update: Mitch Haniger homered with one out in the third inning to break a scoreless tie.

Update II: Mullins doubled with one out in the fifth and scored the tying run on shortstop Jean Segura's throwing error. The Orioles took a 2-1 lead on Dee Gordon's throwing error - the Mariners' third miscue of the inning.

Update III: Nelson Cruz and Denard Span hit back-to-back home runs off Andrew Cashner with two outs in the fifth to give Seattle a 3-2 lead.

Update IV: The Mariners scored twice in the seventh to increase their lead to 5-2. Span had an RBI single off Sean Gilmartin and Guillermo Heredia drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt off Ryan Meisinger.

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