The Orioles got some rare good news on the injury front Friday as starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was diagnosed with a muscle strain in his back after an MRI and a consultation with team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens.
"This was about as good as one could have hoped," said Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations. "It's good news. He's still in line potentially, no sure thing, to make his next start. So we will just see how it responds in the next two days."
Guthrie, who left Thursday's outing after five innings because of back soreness, is in line to start Tuesday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If he is unable to, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, either long reliever Jason Berken will make that start or the club will summon a starter from Triple-A Norfolk.
With off days Thursday and June 27, the Orioles also have the option of juggling the rotation and possibly pushing back Guthrie. But the important news is that it doesn't appear -- as of now -- that Guthrie will need to go to the disabled list.
"I think the results that we got back today were best-case scenario," said Guthrie, who is 2-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 15 outings (14 starts for the Orioles). "When you have to come out of a game, there's always a concern. But I was hopeful it would be something you can work through.
"I have no idea what they have to do to make the roster work, but Dr. Wilckens said that it could be something that is gone in a couple of days or it's going to take a little longer than that. It's really going to depend on how the body responds."
Showalter sounded less optimistic that Guthrie would be able to make Tuesday's start and said he and MacPhail have already discussed contingency plans.
"We're obviously going to need a starter on Tuesday. Somebody that is here who is capable of doing it is Berken, but that means that you have to stay away from him," Showalter said. "I think it's kind of a work in progress to see what the needs are as far as Berken is concerned. Andy's got it wired about some things that we could do as early as tomorrow if we have to. But we have to get our arms around and get a feel for where Jeremy is today."
Bergesen, Davis called up
While the Orioles are seemingly willing to give Guthrie a couple of days before considering moving the starter to the disabled list, they did some roster juggling after Friday's game.
Right-handed starter Brad Bergesen and utility infielder Blake Davis have both been officially recalled.
Bergesen is 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA in three starts for the Tides after he was optioned May 28. He went 1-6 with a 5.36 ERA in 10 outings (nine starts) for the Orioles earlier this season. He'll likely be used as a long man and then become one of the main candidates to start Tuesday if Guthrie is unable to go.
Davis, 27, was hitting .284 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 49 games for Norfolk. The versatile infielder takes the roster spot of young second baseman Ryan Adams, whom the Orioles returned to Triple-A so he can play every day. Adams has started just six games for the Orioles, batting .227 with an RBI.
Double-A Bowie left-hander Pedro Viola, who is 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA and two saves in 20 appearances for the Baysox this season, joined the club Friday, but he was an insurance policy if Guthrie had to go on the disabled list. When the club learned that Guthrie's injury wasn't severe, Viola was returned to Bowie.
Guerrero takes a seat
Showalter met with Vladimir Guerrero on the flight from Toronto on Thursday night and explained how he plans to use the veteran with the Orioles playing six consecutive games in National League parks without a designated hitter.
While Showalter didn't divulge the plan to reporters, it's pretty clear that Guerrero might get some extended time on the bench over the next week.
"I wouldn't rule it out completely," Showalter said when asked about Guerrero's playing the outfield. "I'm not going to say that there isn't any situation where we wouldn't play him in the field, but tonight, obviously, he's a really good pinch hitter for us coming off the bench. Sometimes the game takes the choice part out of it, but there are some positives to be gained on both sides of it. I tried to give him a day here and there. I knew these six days were coming and there was going to be a time that he'd get a little refresher, so to speak."
Some around baseball have complained vehemently about interleague play. Neither Showalter or MacPhail did so Friday, but both made it clear that the road games against National League clubs put the Orioles at a disadvantage because they lose their cleanup hitter.
"I read [Detroit Tigers manager] Jim Leyland's comments earlier in the year, and the one thing that he pointed out that I think made some sense that we should probably try to avoid, if possible, is six games in a row in a National League park can be a bit much," MacPhail said. "It's not as bad if it's three and back to your regular way and then another three. But six together where guys' skills start to atrophy a little bit, particularly if you have a DH-only type guy. I think schedule-making in the future -- not that they don't have enough variables -- but if they can avoid that, that would be a good idea."
Around the horn
MacPhail said there has been no progress made in the team's quest to hire a long-term bullpen coach, but he didn't rule out rotating that position as long as it didn't hamper the team minor league system. Organizational hitting consultant Terry Crowley is serving in that role, a move necessitated by the resignation of pitching coach Mark Connor and former bullpen coach Rick Adair moving into Connor's role. Minor league pitchers Ryan Berry and Matt Hobgood, who have been rehabbing shoulder injuries, are scheduled to pitch Monday when the Gulf Coast League season begins. Washington Wizards star point guard John Wall threw out the game's first pitch Friday.