CHICAGO ——A day after Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg's abysmal relief appearance in Sunday's 9-2 loss at Toronto — an outing in which the right-hander went through seven batters to get one out with two down in the sixth inning, allowing five runs to score — manager Buck Showalter expressed support for the maligned pitcher.
For Gregg, who is making $5.8 million in a bullpen role that's still undefined, it was his second straight rocky outing. He allowed a decisive two-run 10th-inning homer to Nick Swisher in a 6-4 extra-inning loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday.
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With Jim Johnson solidly entrenched at the team's closer — a role that was Gregg's at this time last season — Gregg admitted Sunday that he's still getting adjusted to being used in different roles. His sixth-inning appearance Sunday was the first time he appeared in a game earlier than the seventh inning in a game since 2007.
He allowed two inherited runners to score before yielding three more runs, allowing two doubles, a single, two walks and a hit batter before getting out of the inning.
"We've said things to him," Showalter said. "I said something to him after the game. I said something to him on the plane. He understands what's going on. I talk to him every day in some form or fashion. I understand what he's going through somewhat. [Sunday] was a hiccup for us, not to say anybody else could have done anything, but we can't pitch the same guys three days in a row. We're going to have to shoulder the load around it to keep everybody good and healthy and contributing."
Hardy's grandmother fine after tornado scare
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy received some scary news when the team's charter flight touched down in Chicago on Sunday evening.
That's when Hardy got word that a storm system that terrorized the Great Plains and spawned numerous tornadoes leveled the condominium of his grandmother, Carol Shinn, in the town of Creston, Iowa on Saturday evening. Shin was uninjured, but her home was destroyed.
"I wasn't really following the weather so I didn't even know about the tornadoes going on," Hardy said. "I found out when we landed [Sunday]. I didn't have my phone on."
Hardy said his grandmother's home was in the direct path of the tornado that destroyed parts of the town of less than 7,600 people. The tornado reportedly had 135 mph winds and injured six people.
"Everything's fine, she's fine," Hardy said. "My father sent me a photo of her standing outside the condo and it was leveled. It's kind of a scary thought. But I don't know what's going to happen now with the condo and where she's going to live."
Reimold sits as precaution
Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold was out of the lineup for a second consecutive day. Showalter said he wanted to give Reimold, who hit ninth-inning homers in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, a day off as a precaution because he dealt with some nagging leg cramps.
"I just want to be careful," said Showalter, who said Reimold would likely play the final three games of the series. "He'll be in there [Tuesday]. We've got a left-hander (Chicago's John Danks) tomorrow. We definitely want him ready for a cold windy night."
Reimold said the cramps weren't an issue and he was fine to play Monday, but Showalter also wanted to give fourth outfielder Endy Chavez another start in left, hoping playing time in consecutive games could help the veteran snap out of a 1-for-12 start to the season.
"I'm trying to get Endy going, too," Showalter said. "The same with [Nick Johnson]. They're both going to be contributors. I want to give them a couple days in a row and see if they can get on track a little bit."
Johnson is hitless in 12 at-bats this season.
Johnson OK after being hit in wrist
Showalter said Johnson is fine after taking a pitch to his surgically reconstructed right wrist.
"You could tell the look on his face as many troubles as he's had with his wrist and hand and stuff," Showalter said. "That was not a comfortable move out to first base to find out what we were doing. You could tell on his face. But he had a good grip there. I think it was important to get him back out there today, too, kind of get that behind him."
Johnson, who made the team as a non-roster invitee, has been riddled by injuries. He's had three surgeries on the same wrist, and he said last year it was painful just to take batting practice while playing with the Cleveland Indians' Triple-A affiliate.
Around the horn
Catcher Taylor Teagarden, on the disabled list for a lower back injury, will see Dr. Tom Tolli, to follow up on two epidurals he's received. … Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada threw a side session Monday and will join Triple-A Norfolk and pitch for the Tides on Thursday afternoon at Gwinnett. … Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will make his first home start for Class-A Delmarva on Tuesday.