Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he hopes that reliever Tommy Hunter, who was placed on the disabled list before Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Indians with a left groin strain, will be able to return when he’s eligible to be activated June 5.
“Knowing the history with Tommy, Tommy’s been out for, I believe, as long as two months with this in Texas,” Showalter said. “He actually had one [possible DL stint] that we actually backed off on, I think, later in the year last year, but because we had enough pitchers, we kind of moved around it.
“But like Chris Davis [with his oblique injury], we were hoping to catch this in the infancy of what could be a lot worse and try to rectify it in the DL period."
Hunter, who said he strained his groin while throwing before Wednesday’s game, opened the 2011 season on the 15-day disabled list with a right groin strain and missed the first 82 games of the season. He has had other groin issues in the past, but that was the only time he needed to go on the DL.
“Unless he came in today and said, ‘I’m a full-fledged pitcher tonight, and I can give you an inning or two,’ we were going to have to go down that road,” Showalter said. “I think, from a maturity standpoint, he knows his history, where it is and what could happen if we didn’t try to use some caution with it.”
-- First baseman Chris Davis’ wife, Jill, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child any day. She is scheduled to be induced Sunday morning, so if that happens, Davis would miss Sunday’s home game against Cleveland and Monday’s afternoon series opener on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers.
In that case, Davis would be placed on the paternity list for those two days, with the plan for him to return to the team for Tuesday’s game against the Brewers. Steve Pearce would play first base in Davis’ absence, but the club can add an additional player to replace Davis. That player must already be on the 40-man roster.
Likely candidates to fill that spot would be infielders Jemile Weeks or Steve Lombardozzi because of the value of having a bench player while playing in a National League park Monday.
“Having one infielder on the bench in a National League game is tough,” Showalter said. “We’ll look at it, but it will only be for one day.”
-- In other baby news, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette and his wife, Amy, are the parents of a new baby boy named Colt, who was born early Thursday morning. The couple has seven children between them.
-- Left-hander Johan Santana threw 48 pitches in an extended spring training game today in Sarasota, Fla. After throwing four innings, Santana threw an additional 10 pitches on the side.
The only run Santana allowed was a solo homer.
Santana’s fastball velocity Thursday was 86-90 mph, and 90 mph is the fastest at which he has been clocked during his rehab. Showalter said he believed Santana would pitch in one more extended spring training outing before he is able to join a minor league affiliate.
“I think that was the plan,” Showalter said. “Whether that gets jumped up or not, I don’t know.”
-- Right-handed reliever Preston Guilmet wouldn’t have been eligible to be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk until Saturday, but the team could bypass the mandatory 10-day window that optioned players must remain in the minors because it was part of a DL move.
Guilmet had three days off before throwing 13 pitches Wednesday night, so Showalter said Guilmet could give the Orioles two innings in a long-relief role tonight.
-- Even though right-hander Brad Brach pitched a career-high four innings in relief Wednesday in Pittsburgh, Showalter said he believes Brach could be available again Friday.
“We’ll see,” Showalter said. “There’s a fit for him in our bullpen with what he brings, and we’d like to hold on to that, because if you send him down, it’s another 10 days.”
-- Ravens kicker Justin Tucker will throw out the first pitch before Saturday’s game against the Indians.
Here are tonight's starting lineups: