BOSTON - The Orioles finally got their bullpen settled after two extra-inning games in New York and now they’re proceeding without their starting second baseman. The shuffling and worrying doesn’t cease.
“We knew we were going to have to make room for Alex today,” manager Buck Showalter said this morning. “I wish it wasn’t for Jon, but it looks like that’s where we’re headed. But that time of year. Nobody cares about other teams.
“That’s just part of the challenges you go through. That’s why you’re so adamant about attacking your what-ifs in the offseason. Everybody’s going to have them.”
It was a coincidence that the Orioles recalled utility infielder Engelb Vielma on Wednesday as a fourth bench player. His arrival gives them a needed backup this afternoon while Tim Beckham moves over to second base and Danny Valencia gets the start at third.
An MRI administered this morning revealed the extent of Schoop’s injury, which occurred last night as he struck out to end the top of the seventh inning. Vielma replaced him in the field in the bottom of the eighth.
“The old oblique word,” Showalter said.
“The last swing, if you go back and look at it, was a little awkward. We thought something might be going on there. Jon usually doesn’t take swings at fastballs like that. Brian (Ebel) caught it, too, and got him out of there.
“Actually, he went out in the field and the ground ball that he bent over for, he felt it again there. That’s when we got him out of there.”
Obliques usually are a freakish injury. In Schoop’s case, he swings at a pitch as he’s done countless times and ends up on the disabled list.
“You never know, especially conditions that you’re playing in this time of year. It’s tough on everybody,” Showalter said. “But baseball’s been played in April for years.”
One theory on the increase in oblique strains revolves around the amount of swings taken in cages prior to games.
“I would tend to agree. They just swing more,” Showalter said.
“It’s something you can practice every day. That’s why pitchers, you couldn’t practice pitching like that, but swinging, everybody’s got batting practice pitchers, everybody’s got machine, everybody’s got tees. And the guys are trying to fine-tune their craft every day, so there’s some merit to that.”
A similar injury sidelined Chris Davis for a month last season. The Orioles are learning the severity of Schoop’s injury - what grade and how long he could be lost.
Beckham has played 77 games at second base, but none with the Orioles until today.
“He hadn’t played third for me,” Showalter said.
Having Beckham and Valencia on the roster gives the Orioles some flexibility in their infield that is needed with Schoop on the disabled list. Manny Machado obviously can slide back to third base.
“Obviously, we don’t expect anybody to come in and be necessarily what Jonathan does for our club, but that’s just the nature of the game and the things you have to do in all sports,” Showalter said. “Five guys in basketball, 22 in football. What do you do? The game goes on and, I look at it, creates an opportunity for Valencia. Could create an opportunity for Vielma or somebody else.
“We spent not just last night but the offseason looking at those things. Even a guy like (Steve) Wilkerson when he comes off the (50-game) suspension list. You look at all of those things, where your depth’s going to be. But I try to look at it and I hope the players look at it as an opportunity for somebody else to step up.”
Update: Cobb’s first inning with the Orioles wasn’t smooth. He allowed three runs and four hits, walked a batter and threw 28 pitches. Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer after Andrew Benintendi’s RBI double.
Update II: J.D. Martinez homered off Cobb in the third inning to give Boston a 4-0 lead. Cobb has thrown 59 pitches.
Update III: Cobb is charged with seven earned runs and eight total in 3 2/3 innings. Benintendi had a two-run single in the fourth and he scored on Ramirez’s double. Machado’s second throwing error of the day let another run score after Miguel Castro replaced Cobb, who threw 79 pitches.