DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Orioles really want Ubaldo Jimenez to pitch enough innings this spring, and they aren't going to let the weather mess with his schedule.
Jimenez, who didn't sign with the Orioles until Feb. 19, has appeared in just two games and thrown only four innings so far. Originally, the right-hander was supposed to pitch Monday night in Sarasota against the Minnesota Twins, but there is a steady threat of rain for most of the day in the area.
So, the Orioles are getting a little creative.
Jimenez will now pitch in Fort Myers on Monday in a Triple-A game at 11 a.m., when and where the forecast doesn't appear to be as ominous. That game was supposed to be played at the Orioles' minor league complex at Twin Lakes Park at 12:30 p.m. But the Orioles asked the Boston Red Sox if they could switch locations and times, and the Red Sox agreed. All of the Orioles minor league games now will be played in Fort Myers on Monday.
"If you have 30 percent chance [of rain] in one place and 90 percent in another, I'm taking the 30 [in Fort Myers]," Showalter said.
That's a lot of juggling going on to make sure there is consistent work for Jimenez, who likely will start the Orioles' second game of the regular season April 2. He will throw four to five innings in the Triple-A game. Prospect Michael Ohlman will catch Jimenez.
"We had a feeling he may not get a chance to pitch [Monday], and we cannot have that happen," Showalter said. "I just think it is prudent that we give ourselves the best chance to get his innings in, that's the priority [Monday]. And we have an outside shot down in Fort Myers."
Monday already was shaping up as a logistical nightmare for the Orioles. Now, it is really going to get interesting. The Orioles have major league split-squad games at 1:05 p.m. in Clearwater, Fla., versus the Philadelphia Phillies and a 7:05 p.m. game at home against the Twins.
Left-hander Brian Matusz and right-hander Kevin Gausman are expected to pitch the afternoon game, and if they do, Steve Johnson likely will start in Sarasota. But if the afternoon game is canceled due to rain, Matusz and Gausman could pitch in the night game, if that one occurs. There's also a chance Triple-A pitchers will back up Johnson for the night game.
The pending weather also affected travel plans for the coaches, who were going to stay in Clearwater overnight after the nearby game in Dunedin on Sunday afternoon. But now they have to be back in Sarasota in case the Monday afternoon game is canceled and that group of players needs to have a morning workout.
Machado still optimistic
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado said the delay in his rehab "is not a big deal," and he still believes there may be time to be ready to play Opening Day — which is now only two weeks away.
Machado, who is rehabbing from October knee surgery, hasn't run in six days because he is dealing with tightness caused by the breaking up of scar tissue in his left knee.
"This was going to happen," Machado said. "It happened now, and it just set me back a couple days. It's not a big deal."
Machado was supposed to be re-evaluated Tuesday by his surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, in Los Angeles, but now it appears he won't leave until at least Wednesday and could be examined Thursday. Showalter said the evaluation should happen, for sure, no later than March 24.
Machado still hopes that he can be fully cleared and be ready for Opening Day on March 31 at Camden Yards, though that still appears rather optimistic.
"Maybe. … I don't know if I'll make Opening Day or not. It's not in the back of my mind. I'm just trying to get out there first," he said. "I'm not worried about playing games yet. I just want to get healthy."
Jones returns to lineup
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who hadn't played in a week, returned to the starting lineup Sunday. He had been away from the team for the birth of his son.
It's often unusual for an established veteran like Jones to make the long trip to Dunedin — Showalter jokingly referred to it as a "punishment" — but Jones had only 14 at-bats this spring before the game.
"I need the at-bats. I took off four or five days, so I need the at-bats," he said. "Nothing wrong with it. I don't care about it. It's a road trip. … Let's get my body back in shape [after] a couple days off. And let's get it going."
Jones had three plate appearances Sunday. He struck out in the second inning, singled and scored the game's first run in the fourth and walked in the sixth.
Gonzalez 'pretty happy'
Miguel Gonzalez escaped a fourth-inning jam — and several hard comebackers again — in a strong performance in the Orioles' 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in 10 innings Sunday.
Gonzalez, making his fourth appearance of the spring and second since being knocked out of the game by a liner to his left shin, allowed just one run in four innings Sunday against a lineup filled with Blue Jays starters. He retired 10 straight hitters at one point.
"I'm actually pretty happy about this outing," said Gonzalez, who has now allowed four runs in 91/3 innings this spring. "The last inning was a little scary, balls coming back at me, but it was fun to be out there."
The Orioles took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning, but setup man Ryan Webb, who was pitching his second inning of the game, allowed four consecutive singles to send the game into extra innings.
Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez homered to put the Orioles up, 3-2, in the 10th, but the Blue Jays responded with two runs against Kelvin De La Cruz for the victory. The Orioles dropped to 10-6-1 in the spring.
Around the horn
Alexi Casilla, who has been dealing with a left knee injury, was in Sunday's lineup and was hoping to play, but he did not get clearance from the club's medical staff. So he was scratched for the second time in three days. … Catcher Steve Clevenger was 3-for-3 Sunday with two doubles. He is 12-for-22 this spring. … Tommy Hunter threw 34 pitches in two scoreless innings in a Triple-A game Sunday. It was a routine work day. … Showalter said outfielder David Lough (stiff neck) is improving, but there is no set day for his return. … Outfielder Nolan Reimold was scheduled to get multiple at-bats in the Triple-A game Monday. Now, he'll stay with the major league club instead of going to Fort Myers.