KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Catcher Chris Hoiles swung the bat well in his first two games for the Double-A Hagerstown Suns and remains on schedule to return to action soon after the Orioles LTC return from the current road trip.
The club has been pointing at Tuesday as a decision day for Hoiles, but manager Johnny Oates said that did not necessarily mean that will be the day he comes off the disabled list.
"We've said that he'll probably come back next week," Oates said. "It might not be on Tuesday, but we will evaluate him on Tuesday and see where he is."
Hoiles has been out of action for nearly eight weeks with a fractured right wrist, the result of an allegedly illegal pitch from New York Yankees right-hander Tim Leary. He embarked on an injury rehabilitation assignment last week and had five hits in his first two games.
His return could spell a minor-league assignment for either Jeff Tackett or Mark Parent, who have been sharing time behind the plate the past two weeks. Oates said yesterday that he will not go with three catchers after Hoiles comes back.
The backup who steps aside almost certainly would be recalled when the rosters expand on Sept. 1.
"I don't know how that will workout," Oates said.
Manager of the Year?
Oates shied away when a reporter asked him about the possibility that he'll be named American League Manager of the Year at the end of the season.
"It's not time to think about something like that," said Oates, who figures to be a very strong candidate if the Orioles remain in the race. "It's something that every manager would like to win and every manager would know why they got it -- because of the players."
Oakland Athletics manager Tony La Russa is a strong candidate. So is Phil Garner, who has the Milwaukee Brewers on the fringe of the division race.
Devereaux on the bases
Center fielder Mike Devereaux is one of the fastest members of the club, but he has stolen successfully in fewer than half of his attempts (6-for-13).
"Mike hasn't gotten nearly the chances that Brady Anderson has gotten," Oates said. "Mike is in a situation where he isn't allowed to run a lot of the time. I'm very happy with Brady's success rate. Devo we have to work on."
Right-hander Hipolito Pichardo has been moved into the Royals rotation to start tomorrow's series finale against the Orioles. Pichardo is 6-4 with a 3.71 ERA. Pichardo defeated the Orioles in his only appearance against them this year, a 9-2 decision over Jose Mesa on June 28.
Royals right-hander Mark Gubicza, on the disabled list since July 11, had pain in his shoulder when he warmed up yesterday before trying to pitch a simulated game.
The club had hoped its No. 2 starter would be able to come off the disabled list and start Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.
Gubicza has an inflamed bursa -- a cavity between the tendon and bone.