A TV cameraman packs up his gear at Fenway Park after the Orioles-Red… (Boston Globe photo by Bill…)
BOSTON — It would be tempting to view the persistent rain that drenched Fenway Park on Tuesday night as a small blessing for the Orioles, who had kept their 25-man roster in a state of suspended animation until the second game of the brief series was postponed.
The patchwork lineup that was posted for the matchup between Zach Britton and Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield wasn't even the real lineup because the club was holding off on a couple of roster moves until the tarp came off the field.
When it didn't -- and another game in this inclement spring was postponed until an undetermined date -- the landscape changed and manager Buck Showalter was given another day to examine his options. The only thing he was ready to announce late Tuesday was that Britton and Jeremy Guthrie would stay in turn for the two-game home series against the New York Yankees, with Britton pitching Wednesday and Guthrie going Thursday.
If the game had started, first base prospect Brandon Snyder and pitcher Troy Patton would have been activated and injured veterans Derrek Lee and Cesar Izturis (loss of feeling in fingers) would have been placed on the 15-day disabled list. Instead, the club will get another day to evaluate Lee's oblique strain and Patton likely will be returned to Triple-A Norfolk.
"We've got another day to look at [Lee's injury]," Showalter said, "and see if there is any drastic improvement."
Showalter had spent the previous 24 hours trying to make sense of all the "moving parts" in the evolving roster situation, and he seemed to welcome the opportunity to sort things out on the late plane ride back to Baltimore. However, he wasn't ready to thank the baseball gods for giving his team the gift of an unscheduled night off, regardless of the uncertainty that hovered over his starting lineup like the thick clouds that blanketed the Northeast.
"You might think so at the time," he said, "but you're going to have to pay the piper as far as the doubleheaders. Everybody wants to play single games."
The postponement was the fourth of the year for the Orioles, only one of which has been made up. The Orioles have a day/night doubleheader scheduled against the Yankees at Camden Yards on Aug. 27, and New York has scheduled a makeup as part of a July 30 doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, but that date has not been agreed upon by the Orioles or the Major League Baseball Players Association.
The Orioles visit Boston two more times this year, playing a four-game weekend series at Fenway leading into July's All-Star break and a three-game weekday series in late September. The later visit probably makes more sense for both teams since the roster limit expands in September.
Showalter has more urgent concerns, of course. If Lee doesn't make a miraculous recovery, the Orioles still will have to make two roster additions. Snyder remains a logical choice to fill in at first base, but until that move is finalized, there's still the possibility that the club could switch gears, moving Luke Scott to first base temporarily and bringing in Nolan Reimold to share time with Felix Pie in left field.
Patton, who has pitched well at Norfolk (1-0, 2.60 ERA) also could stay, but the pressing need for a pitcher was based largely on the possibility of a rain interruption Tuesday night that might have forced Britton out of the game early and left the Orioles short in the bullpen.