Notes on Vielma surgery, bullpen and Mancini (O’s down 6-3)

Triple-A Norfolk infielder Engelb Vielma, who’s played in six games with the Orioles this season, will undergo surgery Tuesday morning on his fractured patella.

Vielma swinging grey talljpgVielma sustained the injury last night in Durham in his first game with the Tides after the Orioles optioned him earlier this week. He was chasing a foul ball, stumbled on one of the bullpen mounds and banged his kneecap into a portion of exposed concrete. He was carted off the field.

“Have you guys seen the video of Vielma’s injury? Pull it up today. Brutal, and it’s so avoidable,” said manager Buck Showalter.

“It’s hard for me to imagine in today’s game that we can’t make that mandatory, Triple-A and Double-A and the big leagues. We have mounds on the playing field. Really? It just infuriates me. I don’t understand it.”

The Orioles acquired Vielma from the Giants on Jan. 26 for a player to be named later or cash considerations. They could place him on the 60-day disabled list and open a spot on the 40-man roster if needed.

“It’s going to be an extended period,” Showalter said. “Sad. R.J. (Ron Johnson) was saying he doesn’t think he’s ever seen a guy sell out trying to catch that ball. He just got his feet tangled up going over the mound.

“Can anybody explain to me why we still have that happening? In the field of play. Hey, we’re going to put a mound on the 40 yard line in football. We’re going to put a mound at the free throw line in the NBA playoffs. Come on.

“OK, I’m done. I’m not really. Tweak me some more.”

Adrian Marin moves up from Double-A Bowie to replace Vielma.

With Darren O’Day on the disabled list with a hyperextended right elbow, Brad Brach got the save opportunity last night in a 5-3 win over the Royals. Showalter will determine his choice based on matchups and who’s freshest - pretty much as he’s done all season with Zach Britton on the DL.

“A lot of it is our availability because some of the short starts,” Showalter said. “Brad had two days off and I knew that Richard (Bleier) was capable of pitching two innings, especially to that lineup and wanted to use it accordingly. But there’s an effect that trickles down, so you better have more than one guy.

“Mychal (Givens) should be available tonight and I know what Richard’s going to say. But it’s kind of been that way since we broke camp. When you start getting some short starts ... I think our guys understand that. They’re down in the bullpen a little earlier than they usually are.”

Bleier doesn’t have a major league save - he’s notched eight at the lower levels - but he could be given a chance. He’s allowed one run in 22 2/3 innings and his value soared with multiple injuries to the backend of the bullpen.

“I still feel like people still don’t know how good he’s been for an extended period of time and not just this year,” Showalter said. “His confidence, you can see his confidence growing. He’s just been solid, because he has the ability to pitch multiple innings because he’s usually pretty efficient with pitches. There’s a lot of ground balls and a lot of early-count outs.

“Richard’s been solid for a while now, but he’s got the exuberance of a guy trying to make the team every night. He never takes anything for granted. He’s been good.

“I think because he doesn’t throw 97, striking out people all the time, that he’s kind of a throwback in a lot of ways, the way guys used to do it.”

Trey Mancini is leading off again tonight. Showalter wouldn’t mind finding someone else for the role, but Mancini remains the best option.

“I think Trey is capable of hitting in a lot of places,” Showalter said, “but just doesn’t fit yet.”

Showalter hasn’t chosen a starter for Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Rays. Alex Cobb pitches in Game 2.

“It depends how we come through tonight,” Showalter said. “We’ve made preparations. There are just a lot of moving variables right now. Depending on what happens tonight and tomorrow. But we’ve got preparations made for all the possibilities.”

Both clubs can add a 26th man, but he can’t be sent down between games. However, anyone else can be optioned.

“That’s why I know it’s 30 degrees and it’s sleeting, but boy, if you can play those games and stay away from the doubleheaders,” Showalter said. “Really, let’s face it, we’re trying to get through Sunday physically with the off-day Monday.”

The rain has stopped again at Camden Yards, where thunder was rumbling in the background. No batting practice today.

For the Royals
Jon Jay LF
Jorge Soler RF
Mike Moustakas DH
Salvador Perez C
Lucas Duda 1B
Whit Merrifield 2B
Alex Gordon CF
Chestor Cuthbert 3B
Alcides Escobar SS

Ian Kennedy RHP

Update: Chris Tillman loaded the bases with no outs and Salvador Perez hit a grand slam on an 0-2 pitch to give the Royals a 4-0 lead. Tillman threw 30 pitches.

Update II: The Orioles responded with three runs off Ian Kennedy in the bottom of the first. Back-to-back doubles by Mancini and Adam Jones and Manny Machado’s 10th home run of the season.

Update III: Tillman is charged with six runs (five earned) and four hits in 1 1/3 innings. He walked three, allowed a home run and threw a wild pitch. He threw 45 pitches, 23 for strikes.

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