With just one hit and one walk in 18 at-bats this homestand, Orioles designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero was given a day off from starting Wednesday, but manager Buck Showalter said not to read too much into it.
Guerrero will start — and "more than likely" — hit cleanup against Chicago White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle on Thursday, Showalter said. In 47 career plate appearances against Buerhle, Guerrero is 13-for-40 (.325 average) with four homers, six RBIs, seven walks and a slugging percentage of .675.
"We'll see. We'll see what [Thursday] brings. He's had some success against Buehrle," Showalter said of Guerrero. "We'll see if there's a need for something else. I kind of found [you should] be careful about committing to something a long way away. A lot of things change."
Guerrero is batting .274 with nine homers and 36 RBIs this season. He's hitting .161 in eight August games and has just two homers and five RBIs in 15 games since the All-Star break. In the game before the break, Guerrero broke a bone in his right wrist when he was struck by a pitch, landing him on the disabled list for much of July.
"I talked to him today about it. I wanted to make sure that the wrist, that wasn't bothering him. He's always a pretty level guy. I can tell in the dugout he's been a little frustrated lately because he's trying so hard," Showalter said. "He's hit a couple balls on the button right at somebody, and you can see he's had a little different response afterwards that he usually doesn't have. He's a proud man, and I want to treat him with the respect that he has coming."
All 89 of Guerrero's starts have come in the cleanup spot. Catcher Matt Wieters, who has hit fourth in 11 games, is the only other Oriole to start at cleanup more than four times this season. Adam Jones batted fourth Wednesday for the third time this season.
Led by Guerrero, Orioles cleanup hitters are third to last in the American League in homers, second to last in runs and slugging percentage and last in RBIs.
Other lineup tinkering
Showalter's lineup had a new look Wednesday, besides the absence of Guerrero.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had become the team's leadoff hitter with the injury to Brian Roberts, batted second for the fifth time this season. Felix Pie got the leadoff nod for the ninth time, and Nick Markakis was bumped from second to third for the 18th time this season.
"J.J. can hit anywhere you want him to hit, it doesn't really matter. Lack of a better option [batting first], Felix had some good at-bats [Tuesday] night," Showalter said. "We'll see if it carries over."
Showalter said he considered batting second baseman Robert Andino, who is second among Orioles regulars with a .339 on-base percentage, leadoff. But he didn't want to do it against Chicago's Philip Humber.
"I like Andino down there [in ninth], hitting two spots in front of J.J., too," Showalter said. "I considered it, but not very long.
"I had a lot of time last night to play around with lineups, if you all wonder what I was doing," added Showalter, who was ejected in the fifth inning Tuesday.
O's working with top picks
Orioles director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan said the club remains in negotiations with top pick Dylan Bundy, second-round choice Jason Esposito and sixth-round selection Nick Delmonico but "nothing has changed" in regards to their status. The Orioles have until midnight Monday to sign their 2011 draft picks.
"We're working on it and we're trying to make our points, but you have to have a willingness to get something done on both sides right now, and that may not be until Monday," Jordan said. "That's the way it is. There are things going on. We're working on it. I wish I had a whole lot to give you, but there's really not much I can say."
Jordan expected to talk to Bundy's camp Wednesday and Thursday, but it would be surprising if significant progress were made much before Monday's deadline. At this point, Delmonico, a catcher-third baseman, is planning to play for Georgia. Jordan has expressed frustration about an inability to get a deal done with Esposito, the third baseman out of Vanderbilt.
Around the horn
Righty Jake Arrieta will have surgery in California on Friday morning to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. It was the expected course of action, but the decision was made after he had a CT scan and MRI Wednesday. Los Angeles Angels team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum will perform the surgery. Arrieta will be out for at least two months but hopes to begin his normal throwing program in late November or early December and expects to be ready by the spring. He finished the season 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA in 22 starts. … The Orioles agreed to terms this week with 42nd-round pick Jason McCracken, a 6-foot-4 right-hander out of Poway, Calif. He signed a 2012 contract, so he will report to Sarasota, Fla., and not be activated to an affiliate's roster. The Orioles have agreed to terms with 18 of their 50 picks. … Righty Brandon Erbe (McDonogh), who is attempting to come back from shoulder surgery, cleared waivers and was outrighted to short-season Single-A Aberdeen. … Infielder Cesar Izturis (groin) has reported to the organization's Sarasota facility to begin rehabilitation. … Lefty Zach Britton (shoulder) played long-toss with pitching coach Rick Adair. He remains on schedule to pitch Sunday for Double-A Bowie. If that gets pushed back, he would pitch Monday for Single-A Frederick. … Showalter said Josh Bell's delay before coming to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the ninth Tuesday was because he was in the indoor batting cage and didn't realize he had be called upon. "Let's put it this way: I don't think you'll see it happen again," Showalter said.