CHICAGO -- On Saturday, the Orioles didn't push Jim Johnson further than 2 1/3 innings and held Triple-A Norfolk pitcher Garrett Olson to 45 pitches to keep both in line to potentially start tomorrow and Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Orioles need a starter tomorrow because Adam Loewen went on the disabled list last week with a sore left elbow. Wednesday's opening was a result of Saturday's doubleheader. Orioles manager Dave Trembley has decided not to bring back Brian Burres or Steve Trachsel, the two starters in the doubleheader, on three days' rest.
"I'm probably closer to Wednesday. I'm not closer to Tuesday," Trembley said when asked about naming starters. "If I had to name a starter now, it would be somebody in the bullpen. I could have let Johnson go a little bit further last night. I didn't. If we don't make another move, I would say that he might be a front-runner for the Wednesday spot start because I'm not going to bring back Burres or Trachsel on short notice."
Johnson, who has made one career major league start, hasn't given up a run in five appearances spanning 11 innings out of the bullpen. Olson, a 24-year-old left-hander who was 1-3 with a 7.79 ERA in seven starts for the Orioles last year, is 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts for the Tides. He had been pitching well, but on Saturday against Richmond, he allowed one earned run on three hits and four walks, and threw 41 pitches over two innings.
"Everybody knows what we did with Olson," Trembley said. "We only let him pitch a couple of innings. But that's not etched in stone yet either."
Asked whether he has been impressed with Olson's performance for Norfolk, Trembley said: "I was up until last night. Last night, I wasn't. But before that, it seemed like he had heeded the advice of [pitching coach Rick Kranitz]. You've got to command your fastball. If you can't command your fastball, you can't pitch here. I have no problem with providing him the opportunity to see if he can take it and do it here. But I want to get some more input from other people before I do that."
Millar takes seat
First baseman Kevin Millar and right fielder Nick Markakis had been the only Orioles to start every game until Millar was held out of the lineup yesterday.
Millar, who has hit cleanup in 23 of the Orioles' 25 games, is 3-for-21 on the road trip, dropping his batting average to .228. He's hitting just .179 this season with runners in scoring position. In the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader, Millar came up with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning of a tie game, but couldn't get a run in. The White Sox won the game in the bottom of the inning.
"It's a good time for me," Millar said. "Listen, this game is a long year. I love playing every day obviously, but right now I'm sure he's going to give a day off to certain guys before this road trip [is over]. And this is a good day. ... It's a good mental day off."
Trembley said he is going to try to spell some of his veterans in the coming days.
"I'll tell you, with some of these guys it's hard to do it because they don't want it," Trembley said. "I have to make that decision for them sometimes. I can't worry about that. I have to make that decision for them because in the long run, I think that's in the best interest of everybody."
Aquino's time up?
Orioles reliever Greg Aquino pitched for the first time yesterday in 12 days, and the rust was evident. He got just one out, allowing two earned runs and walking three. His ERA is 14.21.
"Obviously he needed to pitch," Trembley said. "We put him out there. His command was less than it needs to be."
Trembley acknowledged last week that it's getting harder and harder to find spots for Aquino to pitch. His latest performance won't make it any easier. With the Orioles' bullpen getting taxed the previous two days and fresh arms needed, Aquino's roster spot is growing more and more tenuous.
ALL GAMES ON 105.7 FM
TODAY @White Sox, 2:05 p.m., MASN
Starters: Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (2-0, 4.40) vs. White Sox's Javier Vazquez (3-2, 4.40)
TOMORROW Rays, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Starters: Rays' Jason Hammel (2-1, 4.32) vs. Orioles' TBA
WEDNESDAY Rays, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Starters: Rays' Andy Sonnanstine (3-1, 5.28) vs. Orioles' TBA
THURSDAY Rays, 12:35 p.m., MASN
Starters: Rays' Matt Garza (0-0, 7.62) vs. Orioles' TBA
FRIDAY @Angels, 10:05 p.m., MASN2
Starters: Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie (0-3, 4.34 ) vs. Angels' Jered Weaver (2-3, 4.21)