The start of the second half opened with more roster juggling for Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel, who lost his starting catcher to injury, recalled the organization's top-hitting prospect and is waiting for the return of his designated hitter, big-money reliever and, eventually, All-Star leadoff man.
Barring setbacks, Samuel said he expects designated hitter Luke Scott (left hamstring) and lefty reliever Michael Gonzalez (shoulder strain) to be back during this homestand.
"We might get some of those back here next week at some point soon," Samuel said. "It's going to be kind of hectic and busy here next week."
Signed to a $12 million, two-year deal this offseason to be the closer, Gonzalez was 0-2 with an 18.00 ERA in three games before hitting the disabled list. He is finishing up his minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk, where he allowed three hits and two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning Friday night.
In 11 combined minor league games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles, the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds and Double-A Bowie Baysox, Gonzalez was 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA and 13 hits allowed in 10 2/3 innings pitched. Samuel has said Gonzalez will be eased back into a late-inning role when he returns.
Scott, who was placed on the DL on July 2, has played two games with the GCL Orioles, going 1-for-6 with two RBIs. He'll likely come back as the primary DH, which had been manned recently by Corey Patterson and Jake Fox. Fox now will be the club's backup catcher, while reserve backstop Craig Tatum will take over starting duties with Matt Wieters injured.
Wieters strained his right hamstring running the bases July 9 and hasn't played since. He was placed on the disabled list retroactive to July 10 after Thursday's workout, meaning he is eligible to return July 25.
To replace Wieters on the roster, the Orioles recalled third baseman Josh Bell, the organization's top-hitting prospect, who was 3-for-15 in five games with the Orioles earlier this month.
Wigginton returns as trade chip
First baseman Ty Wigginton may have played just a half-inning in Tuesday's All-Star game, but he said the experience was worth it.
"It's definitely a cool honor, definitely a unique experience," said Wigginton, who made his first All-Star game in his ninth season. "I'll cherish it forever."
Wigginton returned to the Orioles' lineup Friday at Camden Yards, where several scouts were in attendance to watch him and third baseman Miguel Tejada, as well as the Toronto Blue Jays, who also could be sellers at the trade deadline.
The Texas Rangers, who were scouting Wigginton on Friday, have been aggressive in recent days in their pursuit of the veteran infielder, who could be part of a first base platoon in Texas. The Philadelphia Phillies also remain interested in Wigginton.
Tatum's new role: starter
Tatum, who hadn't started in back-to-back games for the Orioles until last week, will be the team's primary catcher until Wieters returns. During this homestand, Samuel expects Tatum to play in most games except Sunday and perhaps the day game Wednesday versus Tampa Bay.
"We have seen him handle our pitching. It is something we know he can do very well, handle the pitching staff," Samuel said. "And that's why we decided to have him back there."
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.
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