The Orioles believe they might have found a longtime fixture in the rotation in rookie right-hander Jeremy Guthrie. But the team doesn't want to burn him out before he reaches his potential.
Guthrie, 28, is 2-1 with a 1.65 ERA in nine starts this season, and first baseman Kevin Millar said Guthrie would be primed for the American League All-Star team if there was a sliver of run support behind him.
Guthrie, though, lost some velocity and grew tired late in Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals. After retiring the side in the seventh, he told manager Sam Perlozzo he was done for the evening after throwing 92 pitches and allowing only one earned run.
Before last night's game against Arizona, Perlozzo was asked whether he considered having Guthrie grind it out one more inning.
"You're not going to force a guy - especially as good as he's been pitching - to go back out there and hurt himself," Perlozzo said.
Last month, Perlozzo pulled Guthrie on the road in the ninth inning after he held the Boston Red Sox to one run on three hits for 8 1/3 innings. Exiting with a 5-0 lead, Guthrie watched from the dugout as the bullpen allowed five runs in the ninth in the loss.
Perlozzo said it would have been a different story Thursday if Guthrie was in a potential win situation. Guthrie has pitched at least seven innings his past seven starts, but has six no-decisions during that span. Perlozzo said people fail to realize his pitchers have been in tough ballgames with little room for error "for the past six or seven weeks."
Perlozzo said he knows there is great potential in Guthrie, and he doesn't want to hinder him.
"We might have found something here that's pretty good," Perlozzo said. "You don't ruin that by trying to push the envelope in a situation like that. You just can't do those kinds of things."
R. Johnson sidelined
Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson was scratched from tonight's start and placed on the disabled list last night with muscle tightness.
Johnson was 2-0 against the Orioles last year while with the New York Yankees, striking out 19 in four starts.
Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada has had the most success of any Oriole against Johnson, hitting .343 with a home run and seven RBIs. Jay Payton has three home runs and 12 RBIs against the left-hander.
However, Millar has hit .167 against Johnson in 48 at-bats. Brian Roberts has just two hits in 18 at-bats. Johnson is 4-2 with a 3.52 ERA on the year.
Edgar Gonzalez (2-2 ,4.73) will start in his place.
Cabrera starting for Burres
Left-hander Brian Burres, who was scheduled to start today, will be pushed back to tomorrow because of soreness in his shoulder, something Burres said happens once a year.
Daniel Cabrera will be moved up one day.
"We started him [Burres] on medication and a couple days later he felt like he could make his scheduled start, but we're going to err on the side of caution with him and push him back an extra day," Perlozzo said.
Burres has been moved in and out of the bullpen this season. He threw 1 1/3 innings of relief in Tuesday's series opener against Washington. Perlozzo said the setback is nothing major, and that Burres performed well in a side session yesterday.
Patterson sits again
Corey Patterson was out of the starting lineup again today and has started only twice since June 5. Perlozzo said the outfielder has been working in the batting cage to try to piece things together.
"We're trying to get his swing straightened out," Perlozzo said. "He had an early batting practice today and I thought he swung the bat real well."
Patterson is 1-for-11 on the homestand, with the lone hit coming in his last start, on Wednesday. Perlozzo didn't say when Patterson would be back in the lineup.
"We'll go with him the way we did with some of the other guys," Perlozzo said. "We'll get him a couple of extra days of batting practice and see if we get his confidence going."