Reflecting on Wieters, Rapada, Gwynn and more

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles will make a roster move this afternoon, activating Miguel Gonzalez for tonight’s start against the Rays and sending out a pitcher.

It won’t be Kevin Gausman, who starts on Wednesday.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will undergo surgery at noon to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, also known as a “UCL.”

It’s not to be confused with the school that won 10 national championships under John Wooden.

The Orioles will let us know later that the surgery was “successful.” Wieters’ arm will remain intact and the club will remain hopeful that he can play on opening day.

It seems like a reasonable projection, but there are no guarantees. Remember when we were told that Manny Machado didn’t need surgery on his left knee? When he decided to undergo the procedure, the club seemed optimistic that he would be ready on opening day, but he missed the first month of the season.

No guarantees.

The Orioles didn’t rush Machado and they won’t rush Wieters. Both players are “worth waiting for,” as manager Buck Showalter likes to say.

Dr. James Andrews will use the palmaris longus tendon in Wieters’ right wrist to repair the elbow. I’m told that only about 70 percent of the population has the tendon. I discovered yesterday that I’m in the 30 percent.

It’s not needed to function. Sort of like your appendix, except Andrews would lose his license if he tried to repair an elbow ligament with an appendix.

“Hi everybody!”

“Hi Doctor Nick!”

How can you tell whether you have the palmaris longus tendon without using an X-ray machine? And is that also the name of a World Cup goalie?

Touch your thumb with your pinkie finger and look at your wrist. If you see a raised line running down it, that’s the tendon.

As for my second question, I’m pretty sure that’s incorrect but I don’t have all the rosters.

Fans keep asking how the surgery impacts Wieters’ contract negotiations. Well, there aren’t any negotiations that we know of, and he’s not a free agent until the end of the 2015 season. There’s no way to provide an answer on this date.

The Orioles are 15-20 since Wieters went on the disabled list. Coincidence?

I’m going with “no.”

“I miss him since he was put on the DL,” Wei-Yin Chen said through his interpreter. “Hopefully, I will try to work hard and hopefully it doesn’t affect me that much. And I also hope he can get back to the field as soon as possible.”

The Orioles may reach a point where they need to recall catcher Steve Clevenger to provide more of an offensive threat, whether he’s in the lineup or on the bench. I understand that he was only 3-for-20 throwing out runners before the Orioles optioned him, but he wasn’t a liability behind the plate. I’ve met Jake Fox.

Awesome guy, by the way. Just not a major league catcher.

On the list of disturbing incidents that have occurred at Tropicana Field, I omitted the night that Brian Roberts hit himself over the head with his bat after striking out and wound up with a concussion, the symptoms lingering long enough to threaten his career.

Aubrey Huff sat naked at his locker while reading a newspaper, but that happened everywhere. Can’t blame The Trop for that one.

Steve Pearce came to the plate last night as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning, and he grounded into a force. The last Orioles pinch-hitter to hit a grand slam?

I’ll tell you later. No fair looking it up.

I confirmed last night that the Orioles signed left-hander Clay Rapada to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk. Back in 2011 with the Orioles, left-handers were 5-for-48 against him, but right-handers were 9-for-13 with two doubles, a triple and two home runs.

Right-handers are hitting .345 against Rapada in his major league career, compared to .164 by left-handers.

Showalter spent most of yesterday’s pregame session with the media talking about Wieters, but he also reflected on the career of Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn, who died at age 54.

“Sad. Way too young,” Showalter said.

“He only got 97 percent of the (Hall of Fame) votes? Wow. So, what did those three percent of the people say? Did they get asked that? Why shouldn’t they be?”

Showalter managed against Gwynn during his tenure in Arizona. Was it difficult?

“Difficult? It was impossible,” Showalter said.

“We had a series in San Diego. He was hitting about .410. I said, ‘Guys, listen, this is what we’re going to do tonight.’ Every time there’s a shift, I think about Tony, it seems like. What he would do with a shift. Oh my gosh. We shifted on him one night. He makes a living out of hitting balls where people don’t play. Almost 50 percent of the balls he makes contact with go somewhere where people aren’t playing. Some of them are the bleachers. He had some pop, too.

“I said, ‘I want everybody to get someplace you don’t normally play. If you want to stand on the line at third base, go ahead. Center fielder, if you want to go and stand with the right fielder and you guys stand beside each other, fine. Shortstop, you want to go behind second and do side straddle hops as the pitch is coming, do that. Just do something different, because we know what’s going to happen if we play him conventionally. He went 0-for-4 that night and I said, ‘Man, we’ve got this figured out.’ Next night he had four hits and we quit doing that.

“He was one of the few guys I knew who could hit the ball where he wanted to hit it, with any pitch. He’d take the ball in, just off the plate, and hit it into left field. He’d take a ball away and hook it in the seats if the team needed it. He made the game look real easy. A lot of times, you’ll come into great players and you might catch them on a down time. I don’t remember him having a down time. ‘Is Tony hot?’ ‘Of course, he’s always hot.’ It’s whether you want to pitch to him or not.”

Dwight Evans had the Orioles’ last pinch-hit grand slam on July 26, 1991 off Oakland’s Jeff Nelson. But you probably knew the answer.

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