After several months of trying to play through a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Orioles outfielder Luke Scott finally shut things down with hopes he can return in a few weeks after rest and rehabilitation.
The alternative is season-ending surgery for Scott, the club's 2010 Most Valuable Oriole who has struggled this year.
"I do not want to be cut on. I want to avoid surgery at all costs if I can," said Scott, who is batting .223 with nine homers and 22 RBIs in 206 at-bats after homering a career-high 27 times last year. "But at the end of the day, if it turns out that surgery is the best option, it's necessary that I have to do it, then of course I have to do it. But I am still on my knees praying and just hoping that I don't have to have surgery."
Scott was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday afternoon when the Orioles purchased the contract of Tuesday's starter, right-hander Mitch Atkins, from Triple-A Norfolk. He will leave the team Thursday and have an MRA — an MRI with dye injected into the shoulder —Friday in Baltimore.
Once club orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens reviews the MRA, Scott will decide whether to rest and rehab with hopes of returning shortly after the All-Star break or have surgery, which would require at least four months of recovery.
"We all know what Luke is capable of doing when he is right," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I'm not going to say it is tough on me because, knowing Luke and how much he wants to contribute to this team and how frustrated he gets with it, I am frustrated for him more than anything."
A previous MRI showed the tear and Scott underwent a cortisone shot in June that alleviated the pain. But he aggravated the injury — and also bruised his right knee — when he ran into the left-field wall making a homer-saving catch June 28 at Camden Yards.
"Since I hit the wall, it started to bother me some more. It's just not working the way I want," Scott said. "So the plan is I've got a MRA. … I will be able to see if it has stayed the same, if it has progressed or regressed, and then we'll make the necessary decisions and steps after that."
The upbeat Scott acknowledged that the possibility of missing the rest of the season is "very frustrating."
"The little boy in me still has dreams," Scott said. "I want to do well, and I want to see good things come to the city of Baltimore and be a part of turning around this organization and getting this organization back to the playoffs. That's the little boy in me speaking."
Scott, 33, who is making $6.4 million this season, has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining before free agency. He has talked previously about his desire for a long-term extension, but it's possible the Orioles will not tender him a contract this offseason — especially if his playing future is in question.
"There's no question I'll come through this, in my mind," Scott said. "I'm not going to think about [his Orioles future] right now. Right now, I'm just focused on getting this thing healthy and doing the best I can."
Reimold, Pie to share left
Showalter wouldn't reveal his specific plans for left field now that Scott will be on the DL, but the benefactors will be right-handed-hitting Nolan Reimold and lefty-swinging Felix Pie.
"I wouldn't commit to something straight [platoonwise]," Showalter said. "Let's just see how it goes. We got a string here where we got left, right, left, right, left, right. I will try to get them both some at-bats."
Reimold, who was hitting .255 in 23 games heading into Tuesday, had been limited to the lesser half of a lefty-righty platoon. Pie's playing time was severely limited with Scott healthy. Heading into Tuesday, Pie had batted .239 in 63 games and had just 35 at-bats in June.
Reimold started Monday and Tuesday, and Pie was expected to start Wednesday against Texas Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Pie plays [Wednesday]," Showalter said. "But you know if Nolan gets it going, I might ride with him, so I'm going to let him get some consistent at-bats, too."
Matusz knocked around
Left-hander Brian Matusz's struggles continued Tuesday night in his first start for Triple-A Norfolk since his demotion from the Orioles on Thursday, Matusz allowed four earned runs on seven hits, including two homers, and two walks while striking out three over 52/3 innings in the Tides' game at Charlotte.
Matusz surrendered four extra-base hits, including homers by Jim Gallagher and Lastings Milledge, before he was relieved by Mark Hendrickson. He threw 51 of his 87 pitches for strikes.
The 24-year-old was 1-4 with an 8.77 ERA in six starts for the Orioles before being optioned to Triple-A. In 252/3 innings, he allowed 25 runs on 40 hits, including nine home runs, and 11 walks. Hitters batted .357 against him.
Ripken reaches final
Ten years ago Sunday, Cal Ripken Jr. took the field in Seattle for the 19th and final All-Star Game of his Hall of Fame career. He headed toward third base, where he had been voted to start, but shortstop Alex Rodriguez pushed Ripken to short, allowing the Orioles great to return to the position at which he made his mark.
"At the time, it wasn't so meaningful because I was mad. I don't like to be surprised," Ripken said Tuesday on a conference call that announced Ripken's 2001 All-Star Game performance as the most memorable for the American League. "I was wired, I was on a mike, and I really wanted to tell [Rodriguez], 'No, get out of here,' in a different way than I just described it to you."
Once the surprise subsided, he said, Ripken felt differently.
"It was the coolest gesture that anyone can give you," he said. "When it was all said and done and I hadn't embarrassed myself out there, it was the coolest gesture ever."
Ripken further added to his legacy that day, being named the game's Most Valuable Player after hitting the first pitch he saw from Chan Ho Park in the third inning over the left-field fence. That performance has pushed Ripken into the finale against Stan Musial's 1955 walk-off home run as the greatest moment in All-Star Game history as selected by fans, who can vote through Saturday at mlb.com/moments. The winner will be revealed at this season's All-Star Game, Tuesday in Phoenix.
Around the horn
Showalter said he has not decided whether Chris Jakubauskas will make his next start, which is scheduled for Saturday in Boston. Sunday's Orioles starter is also to be announced. … Showalter said the Orioles could make another roster move soon, depending on whether the team could use another reliever or additional offensive help. … Third baseman Mark Reynolds is the first Oriole to hit 20 homers before the All-Star break since Charles Johnson in 2000. He is the first since Frank Robinson in 1966 to achieve that mark in his first season as an Oriole, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … High-A Frederick right-hander Oliver Drake (Navy) and outfielder Steven Bumbry have been named the organization's minor league pitcher and player of the month. Drake also received Carolina Player of the Week honors for throwing 171/3 scoreless innings. Bumbry, the son of former Orioles outfielder Al Bumbry, batted .296 with two homers and eight RBIs in June. … Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is fourth out of five American League contestants in baseball's Final Vote competition, which awards the final roster spot on each All-Star team.
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