By Zach Helfand
The Baltimore Sun
8:47 PM EDT, July 31, 2012
NEW YORK — The Orioles suddenly find themselves with a logjam at second base after they reactivated Robert Andino from the disabled list on Tuesday. Andino, the starter for most of the season, now will compete with Omar Quintanilla for time at the position.
And that leaves Ryan Flaherty in limbo.
Quintanilla, who got the start at second base Tuesday, has been red hot since joining the club in Andino's absence. In his first 10 games with the Orioles, he batted .429, and he delivered a two-run single with two outs in Tuesday's second inning.
"We will use both their skills and where they are and what the matchups are," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "[We] feel really good to have two versatile players like Robert and Q.
"If someone is swinging the bat well and doing certain things, we will ride it."
Showalter said Andino will still get opportunities to start — specifically saying that he will start "a couple games in Tampa" this weekend — but his role will be somewhat diminished.
As for Flaherty, Showalter said he prefers the experience of Quintanilla at second base, but he can use Flaherty's versatility on the bench to fill other needs.
"Ryan, it's kind of bad for him that he's probably our most versatile player as far as the infield and outfield, he can really give us some options off the bench," Showalter said. "A lot of it has to do too that we were down to one guy on the bench and you want to keep somebody versatile on the bench, too. So that kind of hurts Ryan. You want to keep one guy you can move around and do some things with."
Andino, who made his first-ever trip to the DL with a left shoulder strain, made two rehab starts with Triple-A Norfolk before rejoining the Orioles on Tuesday. He went 3-for-9 with 2 RBIs, a walk, a run and a throwing error with the Tides, and he said he made it through both games without pain in his shoulder.
"I swung a few times really hard and let my bat go and there was no pain," Andino said. "I got scared for a moment, but there was no pain."
Andino said he tested out his shoulder in a variety of different situations
"Did a little bit of sliding and everything, swinging hard, ground balls," he said. "No pain, so we'll see how it goes."
Andino injured his shoulder July 15 diving for a ball up the middle, and the Orioles put him on the disabled list two days later. They originally thought the healing and rehab process would take 4-6 weeks, but Andino progressed faster than expected.
He said the injury wouldn't affect swinging the bat as much making plays in the field and running the bases.
"I think probably the hardest thing is probably diving gloveside," Andino said. "Right now it's probably in the back of my mind. Maybe sliding head first, other than that, it's fine."
Thome to the DL
After three days of persistent pain for Jim Thome, Showalter could sense a trip a trip to the disabled list was looming for the Orioles' designated hitter. An MRI on Tuesday morning confirmed the manager's fears.
The Orioles placed Thome on the DL on Tuesday, and he will fly to California in the next few days for an epidural to treat a herniated disk in his neck.
"[I] wasn't surprised today," Showalter said. "We talked and after two or three days [that] if it wasn't getting better, there might be something in there that caused him to not get better. Especially with some of the treatment, we've seen a lot of these things manage itself in a day or so."
Thome, who hasn't played since Friday, will be available to return from the DL on Aug. 12, and Showalter is optimistic he can return by then.
After sitting Saturday and Sunday, Thome tried to take batting practice Monday, but his neck didn't respond as expected. An MRI in Baltimore on Tuesday morning revealed a herniated disk. Thome is expected to receive the epidural injection in California on either Wednesday or Thursday.
Thome's injury allowed the Orioles to activate Andino without any additional roster moves.
Urrutia to Bowie?
Outfielder Henry Urrutia could report to Double-A Bowie by Aug. 7 or 8, according to a club source. The Cuban defector is currently playing for the Orioles' team in the Dominican Republic and is expected to arrive at the organization's spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., within the next few days.
The Orioles announced the signing of the 25-year-old Urrutia on July 24. After a failed attempt to defect, Urrutia was barred from playing last year, but from 2006-2010 he hit .350 with Las Tunas of the Cuban League.
Around the horn
Right-hander Jason Hammel, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee July 16, is close to resuming baseball activities, Showalter said. Hammel has a timetable for an early September return. ... Lew Ford's third-inning double Tuesday was his first major league hit since Sept. 21, 2007. He had gone 1,774 days since his last one. Jim Johnson recorded his 31st save of the season Monday, tying him for ninth in Orioles history. He is the second-fasted Orioles closer to reach the 30-save plateau, behind Lee Smith in 1994. … Matt Wieters entered Tuesday's game with three home runs against Yankees starter Ivan Nova, his most against any opposing pitcher. … Entering Tuesday, the Orioles were two games shy of their highest win total in the Bronx in a season since they won five in 1997.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.
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