Latest on rotation, concerns about offense and defense

BOSTON - With no morning game at Fenway Park due to a forecast that didn’t provide a window to play, the Orioles are able to make adjustments to their rotation for the Tigers series that begins Tuesday night.

Andrew Cashner is pushed back to the opener at Comerica Park, followed by Kevin Gausman on Wednesday night and most likely Alex Cobb on Thursday afternoon.

The Orioles will withhold making a decision on the finale until Cobb’s workday. Meanwhile, the Orioles appear to be skipping Chris Tillman while he gets additional work in the bullpen.

We’ll find out in Detroit whether he’s available in relief. Mike Wright Jr. also is in the bullpen now that Cobb has taken his spot in the rotation.

A three-man bench already has given the Orioles an extra reliever. They could go deeper in the Tigers series.

David Hess was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk yesterday after being scratched from his start and the Orioles kind of/sort of offering an explanation. It’s true that they don’t want Hess and Hunter Harvey starting on the same day, but Hess was headed to Boston, which also explained why he didn’t take the mound in Syracuse.

The Orioles have been forced to make a roster move on eight consecutive game days and I got the sense yesterday that some people were chafed because I actually had the nerve to do the math. I’m not celebrating it. It’s not a rip. I’ve explained why - injuries and short starts.

You put a player on the disabled list, you have to bring up someone else. Your starter gets knocked out early and games go into extra innings, you need fresh arms. That’s just how it works.

Infielder Engelb Vielma made his major league debut Friday night after replacing Jonathan Schoop at second base, and I hope Hess gets the same opportunity - on the mound, not at second base. That would be weird.

Hess was added to the 40-man roster in November after going 11-9 with a 3.85 ERA in 27 games at Double-A Bowie and holding Eastern League opponents to a .235 average. There’s been some talk in the organization about making him a reliever, but 85 of his 91 appearances have come as a starter.

Whatever role he assumes, the feeling is that he can pitch at this level. He seemed to figure out some things last year and his stock soared.

Harvey and Yefry Ramirez made brief stops in the majors and the same could happen with Hess. The Orioles aren’t going to keep one left-hander in their bullpen throughout the summer. But there’s lots of uncertainty at the moment with only three reserves.

Nothing else is more important right now than an offense that’s scored two runs or fewer in seven of 16 games. The Orioles were held to a season-low three hits yesterday for the fourth time. Bullpen and bench numbers pale in comparison.

The .216 average is tied with the Tigers for 29th in the majors. The .626 OPS is 25th. A team built for the longball is tied for 19th in home runs with 14.

Trey-Mancini-at-bat-orange-sidebar.jpgDon’t blame Trey Mancini. He’s led off the last three games with a hit and is batting .364 (12-for-33) with four walks in his last eight games.

The Orioles committed their 11th error yesterday, tying them for sixth-most in the majors. Other plays haven’t been made that are scored hits or go down as a fielder’s choice. And losing Schoop won’t tighten up the defense.

Danny Valencia had a rough afternoon yesterday, mishandling a ground ball and bouncing two throws in the sixth inning. He also was trying to regain the feeling in his right hand with the game time temperature 34 degrees and dropping. But he’s under significant pressure with Tim Beckham, also placed beneath a microscope as Manny Machado’s replacement, moving to second base.

I’m not sure the Orioles had this arrangement in mind while preaching the need to get better in the field.

Valencia figures to be in the lineup at least for the next two games while the Tigers start left-handers Francisco Liriano and Matthew Boyd. The only other possibility beyond Wednesday would be Beckham at third and Vielma at second. Pedro Álvarez has been good at the plate - the guy suddenly is a walk machine and he’s batting .292 with the same imposing power - but he’s not playing third base.

An extended absence from Schoop could force the Orioles to look outside the organization. They might already be doing it.

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