Pregame notes on Tillman, Gonzalez, Hunter, Urrutia and more

ARLINGTON, Texas - Chris Tillman took his normal work day yesterday and is ready to pitch on regular rest Thursday night in the series finale against the Rangers.

Tillman is taking Miguel Gonzalez’s turn, leaving Saturday’s starter a mystery.

“This is normal rest and everything,” Tillman said. “I was throwing as much in between if I was starting that day anyway.”

The Orioles are waiting on the results of Gonzalez’s MRI, braced for the possibility that he’s headed to the disabled list with a strained right oblique.

“It’s puzzling,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I asked him again yesterday. He said he woke up with it. Was actually talking to his wife about it after the game, too. He said he did a lot of ab work two or three days ago and he thought that might be it. But he said, ‘Heck, I’ve been doing that the whole year for the most part.’

“He was fine on the off-day, then woke up with it. It’s got the symptoms of an oblique, but I’m hoping we get the MRI back and he might be dealing with ... It’s puzzling because we don’t know what it’s going to be. He’s a little frustrated by it.”

Gonzalez has turned in four straight quality starts.

If Gonzalez is fine, he’ll make Saturday’s start against the Athletics at Camden Yards. Otherwise, the candidates are Kevin Gausman and left-hander T.J. McFarland.

As I wrote earlier, Gausman will have his start with Triple-A Norfolk shortened tonight in case the Orioles decide to recall him over the weekend.

Reliever Tommy Hunter said he felt “great” this afternoon after participating in pitchers fielding practice. He’s going to pitch a simulated game here on Thursday and either throw another one Saturday at Camden Yards, start a rehab assignment at Single-A Delmarva or come off the disabled list.

Ryan Webb also did PFPs today, leading to speculation that he’s the injured reliever referenced yesterday by Showalter, who watched the sessions.

“Dom (Chiti) asked me to do it,” Webb said. “I missed it last time after I missed a bunt play and they kind of got mad at me for not doing it, so they asked me to do it again and I went out there. I feel fine.”

Norfolk outfielder Henry Urrutia, on the disabled list after undergoing sports hernia surgery, has been cleared to start jogging on Friday.

Outfielder Francisco Peguero is starting his latest rehab assignment tonight with the Tides. He’s on the DL with a hamstring injury.

Showalter is starting Caleb Joseph behind the plate tonight instead of Nick Hundley despite the Rangers starting right-hander Nick Martinez. Joseph’s last three starts came against lefties.

“I think both of them have done a good job,” Showalter said. “He’s been calm. It’s another benefit of having him in camp with all the pitchers, he’s caught them all. He’s a watcher, very visual. Watches the games. He’s in (Matt) Wieters’ brain a lot and he asks a lot of good questions. He’s not spectating. He’s trying to draw something. And he’s been able to take it in the game with him. He’s done a good job calling the game, as has Hundley.

“I try to keep them both in the flow. Try to. But obviously someone steps out and really gets it going ... I feel fine with both of them catching. We’ll see. They both have a track record at some point in their career of hitting well. It’s just that Hundley has done it more at the big league level, but not really that recently.”

Nelson Cruz leads the majors with 21 homers after Chris Davis ranked first last year with 53. The last team to have two different players lead the majors or tie for the lead in homers in consecutive seasons was the 1993-94 San Francisco Giants. Barry Bonds and Juan Gonzalez tied for the lead with 46 in 1993 and Matt Williams led the majors with 43 in 1994.

Cruz has 55 RBIs in 55 games this year. According to Elias, since the Orioles arrived in Baltimore in 1954, their only other player to be averaging an RBI per game this far into the season is Jim Gentile, who was in attendance last night. Gentile had 126 RBIs in his first 126 games in 1961, before finishing with 141 in 148 games.

Cruz has hit in 18 of his last 20 games - he had one at-bat Sunday before leaving with a hand injury - batting .394 (28-for-71) with seven doubles, 11 homers, 25 RBIs and 17 runs scored.

The Orioles have totaled 29 hits over the last two games, the second-most over a two-game span this year behind their 32 hits April 8-9 in New York.

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