Veteran infielder Alexi Casilla to join Orioles as many starters rest

September 27, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO – The starting lineup the Orioles fielded in Friday night’s 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre was missing 98 homers and 304 RBIs. Without Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Steve Pearce and J.J. Hardy, the Orioles were minus a significant amount of offensive punch.

In Saturday's 4 p.m. game, expect to see Nick Markakis and Alejandro De Aza taking their day of rest. And expect Orioles manager Buck Showalter to begin using the bullpen en masse behind left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. Showalter said he will try to get left-hander Andrew Miller, who threw to three batters on Friday, back out there on Saturday.

Showalter will be especially careful on the Rogers Centre turf, which is hard and unforgiving on legs and backs already worn down by a long baseball season.

** The Orioles hope to have veteran infielder Alexi Casilla here for today’s game. He was scheduled to be on a red-eye flight from Phoenix through Chicago, where several flights were grounded because of an incident at the air traffic control center there.

The timing of Casilla’s arrival – with two days left in the regular season – is an interesting one. He probably would have joined the team when rosters expanded had it not been for a nagging hamstring injury. But the Orioles are bringing him here with a purpose. If he’s here, he would likely play both Saturday and Sunday. His ability to play second, short and maybe even third is interesting.

The Orioles defense has been sloppy the past two days, but keep in mind you’re seeing a modified ‘B’ squad for the most part.

** Why do you rest your key players? Just look to Friday, when right-hander Chris Tillman was hit on the calf by a batted ball. Tillman was fine, but it was enough to remind Showalter.

“It definitely gives you some pause for concern,” Showalter said. “You’re a misstep by somebody or something that puts you in harm’s way, but you have to play these games. Most importantly, our guys have to get some at bats and have to pitch. … We’ve got it mapped out how we want to do it between now and then in the context of competing, but you want to keep your priorities now because the finish line is a little different.”

** Matt Wieters will be on a flight to Detroit on Saturday, where he will help out advance scout Bruce Kison and national cross-checker Danny Haas scouting the Tigers over the next two days as they finish their regular season slate against the Twins.

Showalter said Wieters jumped at the opportunity to help scout. Even though he’s out for the season following Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in June, he’s never far from Showalter in the Orioles dugout and has been orienting catchers Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph to the pitching staff.

“It’s been tough on Matt,” Showalter said. “He’s been a great contributor with the other catchers. Not many people would want to stay with the club like this, but you can tell he’s very enthused and happy about what’s going on with the club.

“We’ve got Bruce Kison and Danny Haas there,” Showalter added. “I called them today and they’re excited about him coming. Matt didn’t even hesitate. He said, ‘I’d love to help,’ so he’ll head there for the two games and probably beat us back to Baltimore. He’s seems real enthused about it and it doesn’t surprise anybody.”

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