Notes: Stopgap starters fill in
Orioles try to find answers for gaps in hurt rotation
BALTIMORE -- Time may be growing short for Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Burres, Baltimore's pair of stopgap starters.
The Orioles have been burning up the phone lines trying to find another starting pitcher, and if that effort ultimately proves fruitless, the search will likely move to the team's secondary options at Triple-A Norfolk.
Both Guthrie and Burres moved into the rotation when Adam Loewen and Jaret Wright went to the disabled list, and Baltimore never intended to stick with that pair on a long-term basis. For now, the Orioles will sort between the two to see who fits better, but they fully intend to find an experienced starting pitcher to help carry the load.
Jim Duquette, Baltimore's vice president of baseball operations, said the Orioles are more likely to uncover somebody that can help on the trade front than they are on the waiver wire.
"We're trying to be aggressive. Having said that, there's not an awful lot available right now," he said. "What we always try to do is balance what we have internally with what's available out there. In the end, are we going to do something? I don't know -- I can't really predict that part. But we're certainly going to be active in terms of making phone calls."
Wright and Loewen are both out for the next few months at the very least, but Duquette said the Orioles still haven't decided whether they prefer Guthrie or Burres to stay in the rotation. Burres couldn't make it through five innings in his first start, and Duquette planned on analyzing Guthrie's Tuesday night outing very carefully.
"That's still kind of a fluid decision," Duquette said. "It's not something we have any answers on at this point. Our feeling was we wanted to see how this turn around the rotation went, then regroup and see where it takes us."
If the search turns back to in-house options, Baltimore would likely sort between a talented youngster -- pitching prospect Garret Olson -- and experienced veteran Rob Bell. Bell was tremendous in Spring Training for the Orioles and has posted a 1.64 ERA and a .143 opponents batting average in his first two starts for Norfolk.
"He's pitched well his last couple outings. From our standpoint, we're watching him closely," Duquette said of Bell, who has a 30-34 record in the Major Leagues. "He has the most experience down there and in the organization. He pitched well in the spring. He's a guy that we think a lot of, so he's definitely a guy that's in consideration."
Checkup: Loewen, who's out for at least 10 weeks with a stress fracture in his left elbow, went through an examination by team orthopedist Andrew Cosgarea on Monday, and the findings confirmed what the O's have believed all along. Loewen probably won't need surgery to correct the ailment -- at least not for now.
"The right course of action is to not have surgery," Duquette said. "Obviously, that's always dependent on how the healing process [goes], but it seems to be right now that that's the direction we should go. But we're also going to consult with a couple doctors just to make sure, so it's not really a final verdict on it yet."
Duquette went on to say that Loewen won't physically need to see the other doctors. Cosgarea will send film to some specialists in the field and will consult with them to see if they propose an alternate form of rehabilitation. Loewen will rest his arm for at least two months before he even picks up a baseball to throw again.
"Maybe the silver lining in the injury is we caught it early enough," said Duquette.
Almost home: Baltimore reliever Scott Williamson may be coming close to his return to the big leagues, but the Orioles want to make sure he's healthy before they bring him back. Williamson went to the disabled list with soreness in his right triceps tendon and has pitched a few multi-inning stints in the Minor Leagues.
Williamson will be eligible to return Thursday, but the Orioles will wait until he feels 100 percent. The veteran worked two-plus innings for Double-A Bowie on Monday and admitted to feeling sore on Tuesday.
"Actually, it's in the forearm, which is really where you want it to be. That's just from pitching. I actually feel a lot better than I thought I'd feel," he said. "I threw 50 pitches yesterday for the first time in a long time. We'll see how it feels. It's usually the second day afterwards. Usually, today's the day you feel all right and the second day after you pitch is the time to tell. It will probably be sore tomorrow, and we'll go from there."
"We'll probably make a decision on him in a couple days," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "He probably can't pitch for a couple days, anyway."
Quotable: "He was trying extremely hard against a former team, and I don't think he was himself. ... Hopefully, today he just relaxes, goes out and uses all his pitches to throw strikes." -- Perlozzo, on Guthrie
Coming up: The Orioles will send their staff ace, Erik Bedard, to the mound Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET, and Tampa Bay will counter with James Shields. Shields has been lights out thus far, while Bedard has struggled.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.