Notes: Orioles place Wright on DL
Veteran to miss at least two starts, Guthrie likely fill-in
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles confirmed rampant speculation Thursday by placing Jaret Wright on the disabled list, a move that temporarily puts their starting rotation in disarray.
Wright will miss at least two starts with soreness in his right shoulder, and Baltimore will wait to see how the relief situation pans out before naming his replacement.
Right now, long reliever Jeremy Guthrie appears to be the odds-on solution. But that could change if the Orioles need to use him out of the bullpen. Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said he'll make a decision in the next few days, adding that the O's can fill from within if their relief staff isn't overworked too much.
"If we get in a major jam tonight, he's going to have to pitch," Perlozzo said of Guthrie. "He'll have to pitch long [relief], and we'll have another plan to make. That's kind of the way we are going to go with that. Obviously, if we decide to go with him, we'll have to probably shut him down, maybe after tomorrow or something."
The Orioles appear comfortable with Wright's prognosis and seem to think he could be back by the end of the month. Wright, who has already had two surgeries on his shoulder, could miss more time than that. The veteran missed almost half the 2005 season with a shoulder strain, and he said the current pain is similar to that injury.
Still, Wright said he's encouraged by the way his arm has bounced back and is trying to remain optimistic.
"Looking back on that game, hopefully [with] coming out when I did, it will only be 15 or 16 days," said Wright, aiming for the quickest recovery allowable under the roster rules. "We can get some good work in and try to get ahead of this thing instead of right now trying to keep my head above water. I think it's a good plan."
Wright will undergo ice and electronic stimulation for a few days before he picks up a ball again, and the Orioles think they can get through the rotation twice without pushing everyone else off turn. Wright's turn comes up Sunday, but an off-day next Thursday will allow the O's to skip the fifth spot. After that, he'd be due back on April 28 or 29.
"The good thing about it is he feels a lot better than we expected and hoped for," Perlozzo said. "He probably would've missed this start and with the off day, we would've been able to skip them. Instead of taking a chance, we'll give him the obvious time he needs and hopefullly there will be some warm weather and he'll be ready to go again."
Wright is the second starting pitcher the Orioles have lost to the disabled list. Kris Benson went on the shelf before Spring Training started with a partially torn right rotator cuff, testing Baltimore's depth immediately. The Orioles signed Steve Trachsel to take Benson's spot, and it appears that Guthrie will step in for Wright.
"It would be fine, but obviously it's at the expense of the team," Guthrie said. "That's not what you want. You want all these starters to stay healthy and to be there. But if I start, great. Hopefully, I'll pitch as well as Jaret pitched."
Swinging and missing: Shortstop Miguel Tejada, who went into Thursday's game hitting just .250, said that he's detected a trend in the way pitchers are facing him this season. Tejada said that he's seeing a lot more inside pitches, which has caused him to swing at offerings he'd generally rather avoid.
"They probably think they can get me off balance because they know I'm the kind of guy that likes to hit the ball to right field," he said. "Right now, it's kind of hard because the weather is too cold. When I get to the plate now, I think of pitches I think I'm going to get and I don't get them. That's going to change. I'm going to make an adjustment."
The inside-pitch treatment reached a logical conclusion Wednesday, when Tejada was hit by a 97 mph fastball thrown by Detroit's Justin Verlander. Later in the game, Baltimore starter Adam Loewen hit Gary Sheffield in a move that some saw as protecting Tejada. While stopping short of endorsing that kind of play, Tejada praised Loewen.
"When that happened, I didn't really ask him to do that because he was pitching a great game. And after he hit Sheffield, he got in trouble," Tejada said. "If he wants to do something to somebody, that's great to do it. But when I get hit, I don't expect to see somebody get hit. It's not my kind of thing. I was happy to see that.
"He protected me. ... It's good, but it's not like I'm happy to see somebody get hit."
Bumps and bruises: Perlozzo said that injured regulars Ramon Hernandez and Jay Payton have made steady progress on their rehab stints at the team's Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla., and could return by the middle of next week. Perlozzo said he didn't expect either to be ready for the team's series in Tampa Bay.
"He's been catching [and] throwing," Perlozzo said of Hernandez. "I think Saturday he is going to start doing some tee work and some soft-tossing, so if he gets through that pretty well, then he's on his way.
"If he doesn't swing the bat and do soft-tossing on Saturday, I don't think he is going to be ready for the first game or two in Tampa. If he's not ready for the first two days with the off-day following that, it could get pushed back when we come back home. We'll just have to see if that's likely -- same with Payton."
Coming up: The Orioles and Royals will meet again Friday, pitting Erik Bedard against Kansas City's Brandon Duckworth. Bedard, Baltimore's Opening Day starter, won his last start but still hasn't really hit his stride.
Quotable: "It would be nice to be full strength one time. That's kind of the way we envisioned this club to go out and play. We haven't had our best team out on the field one time. But we also felt that we had a little bit of depth. We just need to be a little bit better until we get them back." --Perlozzo on the state of his team
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.