Orioles veteran starter Steve Trachsel knows who his next opponent will be. He just isn't sure of the date of his next start.
Manager Dave Trembley said yesterday that Trachsel, whose turn in the rotation was skipped twice as a result of the three days off the Orioles have had in a week's span, will start one of the games in this weekend's series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Trachsel (2-4, 6.75 ERA) hasn't pitched since May 9, meaning whenever he pitches next, he'll be starting on at least two weeks' rest.
"It's definitely tough," said Trachsel, who has had several extra bullpen sessions to work on command of his fastball and curveball.
"The key is try to stay sharp, but it's tough for preparation, because you don't know what day [he is starting]."
Though Trachsel was available yesterday in relief, Trembley didn't use him in the Orioles' 2-1 loss in the series finale against the Washington Nationals at Camden Yards. In his career, Trachsel has made 416 starts and one relief appearance in the regular season.
"I must have been down [in the bullpen] the past five or six years, I'd say at least 20 times," Trachsel said. "I just never came in. You don't want me coming in bases loaded, nobody out."
It appears Trachsel's next start will be Saturday, allowing Trembley to keep his top starters on normal rest. Jeremy Guthrie, who started yesterday, would face the Rays in Friday's series opener, and Daniel Cabrera, who opposes the New York Yankees tomorrow, would start in the final game of the Rays series Sunday.
Trembley considered splitting up left-handers Garrett Olson and Brian Burres in the rotation but decided against it, and the two will start back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday in New York.
"I'm trying to keep as many guys as close to pitching on their regular turn as I possibly can," Trembley said.
"I'm not going to mess with that. I think it's important for routine."
Regardless of what situation arose in yesterday's game, reliever Jim Johnson was going to have the day off. Johnson, who began the season as a starter for Triple-A Norfolk, has developed into one of Trembley's most valuable relievers. Entering yesterday, the right-hander had pitched in five of the past seven games.
"When I'm out there on the mound, I'm not thinking about my arm, I'm not thinking about mechanics," said Johnson, who has a 1.13 ERA in 16 appearances. "I'm thinking about trying to execute my pitches. Sometimes adrenaline plays a part in certain situations. But overall, my arm feels fine. ... Dave's been pretty good on trying to let me know days that he plans on pitching me. It's a long season. I want to be healthy for the whole year and help us win games."
Trembley said he doesn't feel as if he has to watch Johnson's usage more closely just because he has been a starter for much of his career.
"I think you just utilize some common sense, and you go by what you see," Trembley said. "Part of my reasoning to put him in [Saturday] night was knowing that there's another day off [today]. I think you have to monitor what he does out in the bullpen. He doesn't need a whole lot to get loose. You don't let him do a whole lot of throwing in between appearances. You just try to use common sense."
Cintron makes case
Trembley had not planned to start Alex Cintron yesterday, but the shortstop's performance in his first start Saturday left him with little choice. Cintron went 4-for-4 and made a couple of nice defensive plays in the game.
"A guy gets four hits, you have to put him back out there," Trembley said. "It's real simple."
Cintron went 0-for-2 yesterday before Luke Scott pinch hit for him in the eighth inning.
Sun reporter Roch Kubatko contributed to this article.