As the Orioles embark on their first extended road trip of the season, they are dealing with another roster decision that, ultimately, will determine who pitches Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who suffered a left oblique strain Saturday night, will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury and whether he will be lost for much longer than the required 15-day stint if he goes on the disabled list.
Barring a monumental change, Hardy will be placed on the DL on Monday or Tuesday, but who replaces him on the 25-man roster is still in question. A lot of it has to do with who will pitch the middle game of the New York Yankees series. Chris Tillman is going Tuesday, and Jake Arrieta is pitching Thursday.
One possibility is right-hander Chris Jakubauskas, who pitched three innings in relief in Saturday's nightcap against the Texas Rangers. If he gets the call, the Orioles would summon a reliever from Triple-A Norfolk to take Jakubauskas' spot or bring up Craig Tatum to give the club a more traditional backup catcher in addition to utility man Jake Fox.
The other option is for the club to bring up a starter for Wednesday. Right-hander Brad Bergesen, who was demoted Friday to make room for Jakubauskas, is the most likely candidate. He can be recalled only in case of injury, which would be allowable if Hardy is placed on the DL. Veterans Ryan Drese or Chris George also could get the call, but it is more likely Wednesday's starter will be Jakubauskas or Bergesen.
"We're going to see. We've got two options for Wednesday," manager Buck Showalter said. "We talked to one of those options today and prepared for the other one. Really, you push [Jakubauskas] on three days' [rest], which is not a real huge push, or you take somebody from Triple-A or you bring somebody back because of DLing Hardy."
The Orioles decided against having Zach Britton or Arrieta — who started Saturday's doubleheaders — pitch on three days' rest. Britton will pitch on five days' rest Friday at Cleveland.
"First time Zach's been that many innings and that deep in a game," Showalter said about Britton's 72/3-inning performance Saturday. "We're going to be careful there."
Jakubauskas makes return
Jakubauskas allowed five runs and six hits in the 13-1 loss to Texas on Saturday night. The more important thing, though, was that he was back on a major league mound for the first time since April 24, 2010, when he took a liner off his head in just his 12th pitch of his initial start for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"Obviously, you try and put everything bad that has happened behind you," Jakubauskas said. "Like I said before the game, I wanted to get in and get to 12 pitches, which I did."
The first batter he faced was Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, who struck out on three pitches. He then allowed two singles and said he was too focused on the moment to consider his 12th pitch.
"I didn't think about it, to be honest, because I gave up a couple hits and I didn't have any time to sit back and think about it," Jakubauskas said. "But I got in the dugout and I was like, "Well, I made it through the first one,' That's a positive."
Showalter joked that he and pitching coach Mark Connor didn't do Jakubauskas any favors, having him immediately face Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. Showalter said he understood how important the night was for Jakubauskas.
"If you don't take in a moment like that, you're not watching as a coach or a manager or a teammate," Showalter said. "I'm sure some of the guys may not be completely aware of what's going on and the long haul it took for him to get there."
Matusz heading to Sarasota
Lefty Brian Matusz (strained left intercostals muscle) will report to the club's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday to begin the next step of his rehabilitation. He said Sunday that he had four straight pain-free days but won't put a timetable on his return. He was placed on the DL retroactive to March 31.
"I've never gone through this before, so it's kind of a learning experience for me, too, to be able to bounce back from injuries because it's going to happen to everyone at some point in their career," Matusz said. "I just want to get myself on the hill as quick as possible and do as much as I can without pushing it too hard. I'm feeling good right now, so I'm pretty optimistic about the whole situation."
Around the horn
Vladimir Guerrero received his 2010 Silver Slugger Award and 2010 Players' Choice Award for Comeback Player of The Year during a pre-game ceremony. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail presented the Silver Slugger, and center fielder Adam Jones presented the comeback award. … Showalter said he'll "move it around" as far as who will start at shortstop in place of Hardy. Cesar Izturis and Robert Andino, who started Sunday, will split the duty. … Showalter didn't disclose who his emergency third catcher might be, but with Fox and Matt Wieters both playing Sunday, Izturis warmed up Jeremy Guthrie between innings when Wieters couldn't. … With a single in the fifth inning, Nick Markakis has reached base in all nine games this season.