BOSTON -- Orioles reliever Jim Johnson, who picked up his sixth save in his last seven outings in Tuesday's 7-5 win vs. the Red Sox, has increasingly been getting the ball in save situations, although manager Buck Showalter is hesitant to name the setup man his new closer.
"We might be in a situation where a guy's pitched enough innings and we've used him a couple days in a row and somebody else gets an opportunity," said Showalter, who didn't rule out using incumbent closer Kevin Gregg and Pedro Strop, who increased his scoreless stretch to eight games with the O's on Tuesday night, both getting some potential save opportunities as well.
And while Showalter said Strop likely won't be a candidate for next year's closer, the more hotly debated topic is whether Gregg (0-3, 4.61 ERA) will be. Signed as a free agent to a two-year deal with an option for a third, Gregg (20 for 27 in save opportunities) has been erratic at best and has blown three of his last six save chances. Johnson (5-5, 2.69 ERA) is a guy the Orioles have wanted to try to stretch out as a rotation candidate for next season, and Showalter still wasn't ready to rule out the long-rumored possibility of Johnson getting a start before the regular season concludes.
"It depends on what Boston's status is, kind of, when we play them at the end of the season, and [the next series in] Detroit," said Showalter, who has tried to maintain competitive integrity given how close the American League Wild Card race has become. "But the problem with that happening is it precludes Jimmy from being available [in relief] in [the last series with] Boston, and I don't know if that's fair to Tampa."
There is also the argument that it might not be in the Orioles' best interest to take Johnson, who is their best reliever, out of a bullpen that already figures to need extensive rebuilding this offseason. Asked if there can be anything made of the fact that Johnson, who has pitched to a 1.61 ERA in his last 16 outings, has gotten the ball more often than Gregg in the ninth inning, Showalter wouldn't reveal his cards.
"I'm not going to start handicapping that," Showalter said of next year's closer competition. "There's very few opportunities to see a guy pitch in those kind of pressurized situations. I'm trying to take advantage of as many of those as I can and still give us a chance to win."
Showalter ejected after fifth-inning double play
BOSTON -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter was ejected by third-base umpire Chris Guccione for arguing a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play in the fifth inning of Tuesday's 7-5 win over the Red Sox.
After Boston rallied to take a 5-4 lead in the fourth, Guerrero singled off reliever Scott Atchison to reach base for the second time. With Matt Wieters at the plate and a 3-2 count, Vladimir Guerrero broke for second base. Wieters checked his swing and home-plate umpire Mark Wegner didn't indicate ball four or strike three.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw down to second base, where Marco Scutaro tagged Guerrero. Second-base umpire Mike Winters didn't make an initial call, because the Sox appealed Wieters' swing to Guccione, who ruled Baltimore's catcher swung. From there, Winters called Guerrero out.
Asked if the tag made contact with Guerrero, Scutaro said, "I tried. I don't know. I felt something, but I didn't watch the replay."
Guerrero was visibly upset about the call, motioning that he wasn't tagged. Showalter came out to argue the double play with Guccione, who immediately ejected Showalter.
"Take your pick, I think it was strikes," Showalter said, guessing why he was ejected. "I think it was arguing balls and strikes, I don't know. I was more frustrated about the 3-1 pitch on Wieters."
It was Showalter's third ejection of the season, two of which have come at Fenway Park.
Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds both returned to Tuesday's starting lineup, with Jones, who had been sidelined with right thumb discomfort, making his first start since Sept. 9.
Rookie second baseman Ryan Adams has been playing with a sports hernia and it's starting to bother him increasingly, said manager Buck Showalter. The team is looking into shutting down Adams and having him get surgery, although right now nothing is scheduled. If Adams gets surgery in the next few weeks, he'd be ready in time for Spring Training.
Reliever Troy Patton will leave the team Thursday morning and fly to Texas for orientation regarding court-mandated drug and alcohol classes. It's part of the agreed action for Patton's offseason DUI charges, and he is expected to return in time for Friday's game in Detroit.
The Tigers' rotation for the upcoming four-game series is Jacob Turner, Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander and Brad Penny.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Jason Mastrodonato is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.