A day after optioning Brian Matusz to Triple-A Norfolk, Orioles manager Buck Showalter acknowledged that the replacement for the struggling left-hander in the rotation may not be decided until after this weekend.
Assuming that everything goes as planned — and perhaps that's foolish with how much juggling the Orioles have done with their pitching staff this season — Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Chris Jakubauskas will start the next three days, and then the club will need a starter on Tuesday in Texas.
Showalter said that he wants to see how the team's bullpen gets through the next three days before making a decision.
"[Pitching coach Rick Adair] was saying that somebody said that it would come from within. It could, but we could go down [to the minors] as well," Showalter said. "We have a couple of guys throwing the ball really well, more than one, more than two. I think we're going to kind of take it day-by-day. If it's in our best interest to handle it from within, there are no off-days coming. We have to be careful there"
The Orioles' three internal options are Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and Alfredo Simon, who are all currently occupying long-man roles in the bullpen. The two primary candidates for the Triple-A staff are Chris Tillman (2-2, 3.82) and Mitch Atkins (2-2, 3.11).
Matusz, meanwhile, is expected to make his next start for Norfolk on Tuesday.
"We're trying to map out the rotation the rest of the way, but we have so many moving parts," Showalter said. "There's another factor there that we're waiting on. It kind of presented itself. We don't have to talk about it right now, but it could affect some of the things that we do the next few days."
Viola gets call again
It's been quite a week for Double-A left-hander Pedro Viola, who learned Wednesday that he had been selected for the Eastern League All-Star game, and then found out one day later that he was going back to the big leagues.
The 28-year-old reliever was promoted Friday to take Matusz's spot on the roster. Viola, who has been summoned to the big league club three times this season but officially recalled twice, was 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Baysox.
Viola has made one appearance for the Orioles this season, retiring all five Seattle Mariners that he faced. Showalter said that he was the choice because the Orioles wanted another left-hander in the bullpen against the Braves — Michael Gonzalez pitched two innings Thursday — and Viola has been throwing the ball well.
He also acknowledged that Viola may be in for another short stay in the big leagues with the Orioles possibly needing a roster spot for a starter Tuesday.
Reimold back on bench
A night after hitting a three-run homer and an RBI-infield single in his first at-bats since June 19, Nolan Reimold was back on the bench, and Luke Scott returned to left field for the first time since bruising his knee Tuesday in a collision at the wall.
Showalter said that it was tempting to give Reimold, who has been used almost exclusively against left-handed pitching recently, another start, but "you have to think about everybody, too. Luke needs to get back out there, too."
Showalter did say that he expects Reimold to get some key at-bats in the series as a pinch hitter. The Braves are starting right-handed pitchers in all three games.
"He's done a good job off the bench, too," Showalter said. "It's actually pretty impressive. You see the work he puts in every day to be available. It's not always a perfect scenario, but I'm proud with the way Nolan is presenting himself as a piece going forward."
The Orioles haven't played at Turner Field since 2006, and their trip there this weekend marks a homecoming of sorts for several of their players.
Outfielder Nick Markakis went to high school (Woodstock High) and junior college (Young Harris) in Georgia and his family still lives there. His parents, his three brothers and several friends will attend the series, which marks only the second time Markakis has played there as a big leaguer.
Catcher Matt Wieters went to nearby Georgia Tech and played three games as a collegian at Turner Field against the rival Georgia Bulldogs. Wieters grew up as a Braves fan, idolizing Chipper Jones.
"We bought a place here and lived here for a good bit after we signed. We really loved it," said Wieters, whose hometown of Goose Creek, S.C., is about 4 ½ hours away from Atlanta. "It's where I met my wife and where I had some great college memories. It's one of my favorite towns and it's always nice to get back. It's even better because I get some friends and family to come around and watch me play."
Wieters said about 20 family members and friends will attend the series. That's fewer than fellow Orioles catcher Craig Tatum, who is expecting a 30-member cheering section. Tatum is from Hattiesburg, Miss., which is about five hours from Atlanta. However, it's the closest the Orioles will play to his hometown this season.
First baseman Derrek Lee, reliever Michael Gonzalez and coaches John Russell and Jim Presley have played for the Braves.
Around the horn
As expected, Vladimir Guerrero returned to the bench with the Orioles losing the designated hitter in a National League park. Wieters hit in the cleanup spot in his place. … Infielder Cesar Izturis (elbow surgery) will start hitting and other baseball activities Saturday at the team's spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla. … Showalter said that second baseman Brian Roberts (concussion) had a difficult day Thurday, but he felt much better today. … Reliever Clay Rapada, who was designated for assignment Wednesday when Simon was activated from the disabled list, cleared waivers and the clubs expects him to accept an assignment to Norfolk. … Showalter said that Tides reliever Josh Rupe, who had an opt-out clause in his contract, has decided to stay with the organization. … Single-A Frederick manager Orlando Gomez achieved his 900th managerial victory in the Keys' 4-0 victory over Lynchburg Thursday night.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun