The Orioles had perhaps their worst defensive game of the season in a 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, and Matt Wieters' playing a new position had nothing to do with it.
With Mark Reynolds out with a sore left ankle, manager Buck Showalter gave his regular catcher his first big league start at first base. It was an uneventful debut for Wieters, who wasn't hit a ground ball.
"I felt comfortable," said Wieters, who accounted for the Orioles' only run with a seventh-inning homer. "Once you get out there and get the first couple of innings out of the way, it just gets back to playing baseball."
Wieters has carried around a first baseman's mitt for the past two seasons, and he often goes over to the position during batting practice to get work in. However, he hasn't played over there regularly since he was a freshman at Georgia Tech in 2005.
The move was necessitated by Showalter's having only a two-man bench after Reynolds' collision with the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout on Saturday while trying to catch Josh Bell's errant throw. Reynolds said he was a little sore and expected to be in the lineup Monday.
Showalter also opted to give Blake Davis his first big league start at third base, and that didn't work out well as the rookie infielder made two errors. Davis had started one game at third base this season for Triple-A Norfolk.
"I felt bad for him but it's something where supposedly he's a utility guy and plays all over," Showalter said. "It was a tough day for him. There's been some really good players that have had a day similar to that, so I have a little empathy for that. But at the same time if you are going to do the things that Blake is going to have to do to play here, you have to be able to do those things."
Gregg remains closer
A night after Kevin Gregg failed to retire any of the five hitters he faced in blowing a two-run, 12th-inning lead, Showalter stood by his closer, but his endorsement wasn't as strong as it has been for much of the season.
"My options are Kevin right now," Showalter said. "I just think we are where we are right now. Kevin is capable of doing the job, and he's done it better than he did it [Saturday] night. The walk totals have been higher than you'd like to see, but it's a fine line that you walk. I've been supportive of Kevin. I think everybody has. He's done some good things for us and he's pitched in some tough luck, and he'd be the first to tell you that some of it has been self-inflicted. We'll proceed as we are for the time being."
Gregg has blown five of his 22 save opportunities. He has given up runs in three of his past four outings, and in two of those appearances, he failed to record an out despite facing five hitters or more.
Jim Johnson, who threw three scoreless innings Saturday, his longest outing since April 19, 2008, would be the Orioles' best option to replace Gregg, but the club still plans to move him into the rotation before season's end.
"I think you're robbing from Peter to pay Paul," Showalter said when asked about the timing of Johnson's move to the rotation. "Obviously, with the doubleheader coming up [Saturday], I'd hate to think of him [as] out of the bullpen picture up until that point."
Adams up, Bell down
Bell, who made two defensive gaffes in the 12th inning Saturday, was optioned to Norfolk after Sunday's game. Tides second baseman Ryan Adams will take Bell's spot on the roster and meet the team in Minnesota.
Adams, 24, is batting .283 with 10 homers, 37 RBIs and five steals in 93 games for the Tides. He was with the Orioles earlier this season and went 5-for-23 (.217) with one RBI in nine games.
With Reynolds entrenched at first base, the Orioles could use Adams at third or play him at second and have Robert Andino and Davis make starts at third.
Bell batted .174 (8-for-46) with six RBIs in 17 games for the Orioles.
Berken back to Baltimore
Reliever Jason Berken, who has been dealing with right elbow soreness, will return to Baltimore and have a magnetic resonance angiogram performed on his sore right elbow. Berken got positive reports from his consultation Saturday with renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum, but the Orioles want to get his elbow further examined.
"[Yocum] said he could tell if there was something significantly wrong. I would have had pain or felt more than what I was feeling. So that was positive to know that," said Berken, who will be placed on the disabled list Monday to make room for starter Zach Britton. "But until we see the MRA and stuff, it's going to be the deciding factor in what's really going on there. But I think [Saturday] was a step in the right direction, at least."
Around the horn
Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (right shoulder stiffness) threw a bullpen session Sunday and will start Wednesday in Minnesota. Britton will start Monday, followed by Alfredo Simon on Tuesday. … First baseman Chris Davis (right shoulder strain) has left the team to begin his rehabilitation program at the team's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla. … Infielder Cesar Izturis (left groin strain) will start baseball activities Monday. … The ERA of Orioles starters in the first six games of this road trip is 6.70. … Angels designated hitter Torii Hunter got robbed of a home run by Adam Jones in the fourth inning Sunday and saw his 18-game hitting streak end. … In the three-game series against the Orioles, Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos went 9-for-16 with three home runs, five RBIs and five runs.
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