O's might have issues at shortstop, second base

Health issues make Hardy, Roberts uncertain for Saturday's doubleheader vs. Rangers

April 08, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Heading into Saturday's doubleheader, the Orioles may be without their starting double-play combination.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was scratched from Thursday's lineup with tightness in his left side and wasn't supposed to play Friday, said he thinks he'll be able to avoid the disabled list and hopes to start this weekend against the Texas Rangers.

But that encouraging news was tempered when the club learned about 20 minutes before Friday's scheduled game time that starting second baseman Brian Roberts couldn't play because of stomach pain. The Orioles don't know the extent of the injury or illness, but he was sent to the hospital for tests. Roberts played in just 59 games last season due to myriad injuries.

The club should know more about Roberts and Hardy on Saturday. Hardy said he could have played Friday if the club needed him in a game that eventually was postponed because of rain.

"We'll give it another day and kind of reevaluate [Saturday]," said Hardy, who has three hits in his first 14 at-bats this season. "I've never had anything like it. But being able to throw, being able to run around, not feel pain, I feel like it can't be that big a deal. So, I'm hoping … to be in this series at some point."

Hardy said he first felt the pain — which is near his rib cage — while swinging during batting practice Thursday. He didn't swing Friday, but planned to take infield practice and run before inclement weather made the field unusable.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the club has erred on the side of caution with Hardy, because he has never had this type of injury before. Similar to Luke Scott's right groin strain, Showalter said he thinks they treated Hardy's injury before it became serious. Scott missed just three games before returning Thursday.

"The challenge is he's never had it before so there's nothing to weigh it against. … Because if he had, he'd know the [severity]," Showalter said. "We'll try to err on the side of caution and we'll see where we are Saturday. I think I could use him if I had to."

Cesar Izturis, who re-signed as the utility infielder after Hardy was acquired, started at shortstop Thursday and was in the starting lineup Friday.

Guthrie still targeting Sunday

Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who spent Monday and Tuesday nights in the hospital with pneumonia, threw a bullpen session Friday, said he felt good and still hopes to pitch Sunday against the Rangers.

"That's the target and it will be until Sunday morning," Guthrie said.

Showalter said Guthrie's indoor side session was, "as good as can be expected. A little winded, a little weak. He threw the ball OK. It's more of an endurance thing now. We'll try not to push him too much where he'd have any form of setbacks."

Guthrie said he had good command of his pitches, but now needs to regain his stamina to be able to pitch in a game. He feels his strength returning a little bit each day.

"Today, I felt better than I did yesterday. And you wake up tomorrow and just feel better," he said. "That means feeling easy with the breaths and everything and building up the stamina. I think that's the biggest issue at this point. I don't have any of the headaches or the body aches that I suffered from earlier."

If Guthrie cannot pitch Sunday, he could be pushed back to Tuesday or placed on the disabled list. The Orioles might have to call up a pitcher from Triple-A Norfolk to make Sunday's spot start. Right-hander Chris Jakubauskas, who is on turn to pitch Sunday for the Tides, is the most likely call-up.

Around the horn

Lefty starter Brian Matusz, on the 15-day DL with an intercostals muscle strain, is feeling much better. "The last two days have been a real good turn for him," Showalter said. He leaves Monday for Sarasota to continue his rehab. … RHP Justin Duchscherer, who is on the 15-disabled list with left hip soreness and back stiffness, had an ablation procedure — radio frequency waves heating up nerves to alleviate pain — to his back and is "pretty upbeat about it. He expects it to be a lot better," Showalter said. … The Orioles have had no contact with the representation of free agent pitcher Carlos Silva. … RHP Jason Berken will sign autographs from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at the TownMall of Westminster as part of WTTR Radio's "Birds are Back" rally. The event, which is free, runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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