By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
12:15 PM EDT, April 16, 2014
The Orioles are still battling a lingering flu as they head into this afternoon’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards.
Tomorrow’s off day probably couldn’t come at a better time.
Illness has struck so many players that the entire home clubhouse at Camden Yards was disinfected, all the way down to the ping-pong paddles and pool sticks.
“Unfortunately, a lot of it is contagious before you really know you’ve got it,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Per [team doctor] Dr. [William] Goldiner’s orders and the trainers, we went through all the shower areas, all the locker areas. It’s a very clean locker room to start with, the guys take a lot of pride in it, but they went back over everything.”
Orioles enter fielder Adam Jones and right-handed relief pitcher Evan Meek were the most recent players to be affected by the illness.
Jones said he was feeling better Wednesday and was initially listed as the starting center fielder today, but the Orioles have adjusted the lineup to place him at designated hitter.
“I haven’t decided whether I’m going to play Adam at center or DH yet,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before the game. “I know it is up there as center field, but he’s going to go run around a little bit and see if he is fatigued or anything.”
Meek said he still feels fatigued, but he would be able to pitch today if needed. He said that he would likely skip his usual pregame workout to conserve his energy and start warming up in the sixth inning. Showalter said Tuesday that he wanted to give Meek two days off after throwing 1 2/3 relief innings Monday, so he was still uncertain whether he’d use Meek today.
As I wrote this morning, right-hander Bud Norris will be available in the bullpen today. So Showalter will hold off on announcing his rotation for the four-game series against the Boston Red Sox that begins Friday at Fenway Park.
Right-hander Chris Tillman, who was scheduled to start today before the rainout pushed him back, said he’s preparing to start Friday. He had a work day Tuesday.
“I thought Tilly could benefit regardless of who we are facing today or down the road. The thing that is optimum is good health -- everybody,” Showalter said. “Don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way by having them sit too long. It was something we were thinking about anyway, the schedule allowed it.”
-- Right-hander Kevin Gausman developed a blister on his right middle finger during last night’s start for Triple-A Norfolk, but he isn’t expected to miss his next start.
Gausman left the game three batters into the fourth inning in the Tides’ 15-0 loss to Gwinnett after allowing four runs and seven hits. He also walked three and struck out just one.
The 23-year-old prospect had allowed just three runs (two earned) over his previous 8 2/3 innings entering yesterday’s start and was still reeling from illness, Showalter said.
-- There’s still no word on when Tuesday's rained-out game will be played. The teams could play a doubleheader during one of Tampa Bay’s other two trips to Baltimore this season.
They also share a common off day June 26 before playing a three-game series, but they would likely need players’ union approval to schedule it that day because taking away that off day would force the Orioles to play 24 straight days leading into the All-Star break.
-- Showalter was asked about playing an 11:05 a.m. start Monday in Boston on the day of this year’s Boston Marathon after a 7:05 p.m. ESPN-televised Sunday Night Baseball game the night before.
Showalter hasn’t been shy in the past while mentioning the challenges of the schedule. But he said it was an honor that their schedule allowed them to be a part of a special day.
“I think this year, especially with what that day means to our country, to Boston, and to everybody in particular, I think it’s an honor to be there for that,” Showalter said. “I really do. Regardless of the competitive part of it. We are both doing the same thing.
"For what that day represents to Boston, and all our country, I consider it, we all consider it, an honor to be lucky enough to have the schedule fall that way. I think we are all looking forward to paying the respect due there.”
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