Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who is recovering from a right oblique strain, made an injury rehabilitation start for Double-A Bowie on Wednesday night at Prince George's Stadium.
Gonzalez, who is expected to return from the DL on Sunday or Monday, threw 70 pitches (45 strikes) in 4 1/3 scoreless innings for the Baysox on Wednesday. He allowed four hits, walked one batter and struck out five, leaving the game after striking out the leadoff batter in the fifth inning.
Before the series finale against the Boston Red Sox, manager Buck Showalter wouldn't rule out the possibility of using a six-man starting rotation when Gonzalez is activated.
But for that to happen, Showalter said his starting pitching has to merit the move.
"[A six-man rotation] is an option," Showalter said. "Seven's an option. Eight's an option, if we had them. They're all options. It's something we could do. If a 'what if' becomes a guy you're going to count on, then that's how you get to six."
The Orioles called up right-hander Kevin Gausman on Saturday to take the rotation spot of Gonzalez, who was sent to the DL on Friday, retroactive to May 31. Gausman held the Oakland Athletics to one run and four hits in seven innings Saturday in the Orioles' 6-3 victory.
Gausman will start again Thursday in the series opener against the American League East-leading Toronto Blue Jays at Camden Yards, though Showalter thinks he could then contribute from the bullpen, if needed.
Showalter said Gonzalez, who is 3-4 with a 4.17 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) this season, will be used as a starter when he returns to the major leagues. Showalter also said he hopes Gonzalez can start Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in the three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Those outings, along with Gausman's performance Thursday, will determine what moves Showalter makes.
"I try not to dwell on it too much, knowing that a lot of them will solve themselves," Showalter said. "I hope everyone pitches real well, and we've got a problem. That'd be a good problem."
Webb getting the job done in bullpen
When Ryan Webb goes more than two consecutive games without pitching, he feels like he hasn't made an appearance for months.
But the right-hander has given Showalter every reason to call upon him as frequently as possible this year.
Webb has a 2.60 ERA heading into Wednesday's game, including a perfect seventh inning against the Red Sox on Tuesday in which he needed just eight pitches — all strikes — to induce a pair of groundouts and a popout.
His 28 appearances this season rank him second on the team to left-hander Brian Matusz through Tuesday.
"That's what I'm here to do," Webb said Wednesday. "When you feel good out there and consistent, it's nice to get in every day."
Last year, Webb threw a career-high 80 1/3 innings with the Miami Marlins, including 12 appearances of two or more innings. He's currently on track to pitch less than 70 innings this season, but he said he expects his workload to increase as the summer progresses.
"I definitely like the repetition," Webb said. "The more repetition you get, the more comfortable you get, and you get better results that way. It's nice to get into a lot of games, especially if your arm is in shape for that."
Around the horn
Third baseman Manny Machado batted seventh Wednesday against the Red Sox. Showalter explained that he dropped Machado in the order because Steve Pearce is hitting well, not because of Machado's recent struggles at the plate. Machado was hitless in his previous 15 at-bats entering Wednesday, including a strikeout to end Tuesday's game. … Adam Jones returned to center field Wednesday after he served as the designated hitter in the last two games because of general soreness. He hit an RBI double in the first inning Wednesday. … The Orioles aren't announcing their draft signings until physicals are passed, but Showalter said the club had a "high percentage of commitments." On Wednesday night, fourth-round selection Pat Connaughton tweeted a picture from Camden Yards with the word, "Home??" Connaughton, a right-hander from Notre Dame, will be allowed to play basketball for the Fighting Irish in the 2014-15 season. … Showalter said right-hander Brad Brach, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk before Monday's game, will be a reliever, not a starter, with the Tides. The decision helps the organization to limit his innings and give the Orioles more flexibility if they promote him in the future. … Major League Baseball, Target and People magazine announced Wednesday the 90 finalists in the All-Star Teachers campaign. Three teachers were selected as finalists for each club. The Orioles' finalists are Thomas Arentz of Sparrows Point High in Baltimore County, Catherine Thorson of Georgetown East Elementary in Anne Arundel County and Brian Raska of Minnieville Elementary in Woodbridge Va. Fans are encouraged to visit AllStarTeachers.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 29. One winner from each club will be selected to take part in pregame festivities at the All-Star Game in July.
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