Britton unlikely to be called up in September

Notebook

Tillman expected to rejoin Orioles; Gabino demoted to Triple-A Norfolk

August 26, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

CHICAGO — Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail will meet with manager Buck Showalter this weekend in Anaheim, Calif., to discuss the team's plans for September call-ups, but it's looking more unlikely that pitching prospect Zach Britton will join the club.

Chris Tillman, who gave up six runs (four earned) in just 2 2/3 innings in a no-decision Thursday night for Triple-A Norfolk, is expected to join the Orioles after rosters expand Sept. 1, which could prompt the team to go to a six-man rotation for the final month of the season.

That would leave Britton as the odd man out, though Showalter said no final decisions have been made regarding the left-handed starter or anybody else.

"We're not there yet," Showalter said. "There's been some discussion. I know Andy is going to meet us in Anaheim. That will be something we'll talk about out there, finalize some of that stuff. It would be less than frank if I said we don't have an idea on that, but probably now is not the right time to answer."

Showalter said that if Britton or Tillman were to be called up, it would almost certainly be as a starter.

"I wouldn't close the door on either one of them, but it's not like we're going to call up 20 guys, not unless we can use them," Showalter said.

Britton, 22, entered Thursday 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 10 starts for Norfolk after going 7-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 outings (14 starts) for Double-A Bowie.

He has logged 142 1/3 innings this season, just five short of his career high, set with Single-A Delmarva in 2008.

However, if Britton doesn't get the late-season call-up, it sounds as if it will be more about the Orioles not having an opportunity for him to pitch regularly than his reaching an innings limit.

"You want to take him beyond that. It's not always 'stop there,'" Showalter said. "If it's always 'stop there,' they never get where they need to be. Â Zach is in good position inningswise. He's not done starting [at Norfolk] either. I think they go through [Sept. 6], isn't it? So he's going to get one, maybe two more outings down there, I would think."

Gabino sent back to Norfolk

Needing to open up a roster spot for reliever Jim Johnson's activation from the disabled list today, the Orioles demoted struggling right-hander Armando Gabino back to Norfolk. Gabino made five appearances for the Orioles, allowing seven earned runs (13.50 ERA) and nine hits, including three homers, in 4 2/3 innings.

That included one inning in the Orioles' 8-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night, in which Gabino surrendered a two-run homer to Alex Rios.

Johnson will be available in the bullpen for tonight's series opener against the Los Angeles Angels. Reliever Jason Berken (torn labrum) is expected to be transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL to accommodate Johnson's return to the 40-man roster.

Jones sits again

Center fielder Adam Jones was initially in Thursday's lineup, but he was scratched about three hours before the series finale with continuing discomfort in his bruised left shoulder.

Jones, who hasn't played since he was hit by a pitch from Gavin Floyd in the fourth inning Tuesday, played catch, took some swings and did a little jogging. When Showalter saw him laboring to run, he made the decision to pull Jones from the lineup.

"He's better, but he's still pretty sore," Showalter said. "I'll tell you what bothers him the most is running with his arm coming up. Hopefully, we'll get him in [tonight]. I'm concerned, but he's gotten better. If [he felt] exactly the same, it would be a little different. From the little time I've known Jonesy, talking to a lot of people here, if he's showing you any discomfort, there's probably something to it because he's a pretty tough kid."

With Jones being scratched, Corey Patterson, who was initially scheduled to serve as the designated hitter, was moved into left field, with Felix Pie moving to center. Josh Bell, who was originally getting the night off, started at third with Ty Wigginton at first and Luke Scott at designated hitter.

"I felt a million times better than I did yesterday," Jones said. "So I guess tomorrow is the day, hopefully, I can play.

"I can't carry my weight when I run. The impact of the ground hurts like hell every time I move my arms, and my reaction when I catch the ball, it's hard to get my arm up real quick. And swinging the bat, I can get to the ball, but I can't get through it. Those are all three things that I need to play, [and] all three hurt."

Finding the zone

The formula for Brian Matusz's success this month has been pretty simple: Throw more strikes. Matusz, who allowed just one run in seven innings Wednesday, has walked just five batters in five August starts spanning 31 innings.

That's a big reason he is 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA in August after going 1-2 with an 8.10 ERA in five starts in July. In 20 innings last month, Matusz issued 16 walks.

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