By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
7:41 PM EDT, July 26, 2011
TORONTO — Vladimir Guerrero's career low in home runs in a season in which he has played 90 games or more is 11, and that came all the way back in 1997, his rookie year with the Montreal Expos.
That same season, he drove in 40 runs, which also stands as a career low.
Guerrero, who was activated from the disabled list today, has a little more than two months to eclipse those marks in what has been arguably been the most worst season of his likely Hall of Fame career.
"I feel good and my hand is much better," said Guerrero, who missed 10 games with a cracked bone in his right hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch from Boston Red Sox rookie Kyle Weiland on July 10. "We still have two months left, and I feel good."
Guerrero declared himself ready after one rehab game for Double-A Bowie in which he went 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored.
Guerrero, 36, entered Tuesday's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays with a .279 average, seven homers and 31 RBIs in 83 games. Those numbers didn't stop manager Buck Showalter from penciling in Guerrero back in the cleanup spot and predicting a big final two months.
"I hope this kind of freshened him up a little bit," Showalter said. "I hope he can get back to being the Vladimir that he's capable of being. We could certainly use him. I think we all respect his pedigree and his track record. One thing that he definitely has is a lot of pride in what he does. I'd be surprised if he doesn't finish strong here."
Britton remains scheduled for Saturday
Despite Zach Britton's getting knocked around by Double-A Harrisburg for eight runs (four earned) and eight hits in 42/3 innings Monday, Showalter said he got positive reports from the outing and the plan remains for the left-hander to start the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader against theNew YorkYankees.
In three starts since he was optioned to Double-A Bowie, Britton is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. On Monday, Britton retired 12 of the first 13 Harrisburg hitters that he faced, eight on strikeouts. However, after getting the first out of the fifth inning, nine of the next 10 batters reached base off Britton. That included two fifth-inning doubles by phenom Bryce Harper and back-to-back homers by Bill Rhinehart and Tyler Moore.
"He was actually good," Showalter said. "I talked to a number of people and [Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair] talked to him, too. It's probably the best that he's thrown in a long time, the first four innings. Probably, only two of those runs should have scored. He struck out nine and he was very effective. He got in two or three defensive situations and he had a real long inning, and they thought it best to get him out. That was encouraging."
Because the Orioles have been going with a four-man rotation, they'll also need a starter for the first game of Saturday's doubleheader in New York. Showalter said they'll either promote a minor leaguer or use somebody out of the bullpen. One candidate is Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chris Tillman, who would be on regular rest Saturday.
Tillman is 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA in 10 outings for the Tides after going 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 10 starts for the Orioles earlier this season.
"He's an option," Showalter said of Tillman. "So is Oliver Drake. So is [Dylan] Bundy and if we don't get him signed, we might take his brother [Bobby]."
Gonzalez starts suspension
With it clear that his suspension was not going to be reduced, Orioles left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez dropped his appeal and started serving his three-game ban in Tuesday's series opener against the Blue Jays.
Gonzalez was suspended for three games for throwing behind Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz on July 10, the final game in a series that featured eight ejections and a bench-clearing brawl.
"I just wanted to go ahead and get it over with," Gonzalez said when asked why he dropped the appeal. "They pretty much said that they weren't going to change anything about it and they stood their ground. I understand, so I figured I should just get it over with now."
Around the horn
To make room for Guerrero on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned reliever Mark Worrell to Triple-A Norfolk. Worrell had a 36.00 ERA, allowing eight runs on six hits, two homers and two walks in four appearances spanning two innings … Infielder Cesar Izturis (right elbow surgery) played his fourth game tonight for Double-A Bowie, and his rehab assignment will likely continue until at least the end of the week. "You try to keep in mind, it's been a long time since this guy has played in a baseball game," Showalter said. "He was going to play second [Monday] night, and his knee was a little sore. That's not something that is going to happen overnight. I think he knows that he's really rusty and he's not where he needs to be yet." … Outfielder/designated hitter Luke Scott had surgery this morning to repair a torn right labrum.
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