Xavier Avery is back with the team and back in the lineup, batting second and starting in left field.
The 22-year-old, who hit .217 in a 15-game stint with the Orioles earlier this year, returned Thursday when Nick Johnson was placed on the disabled list with a strained right wrist.
“You never know what to expect, but I’m very happy to be back and be back playing up here,” said Avery, who hit .268 with 18 extra base hits and 16 stolen bases for the Tides. “It’s always a surprise [to be called up] in my opinion. You never know what can happen. So, sure it was a surprise, a big surprise.”
He is the only traditional outfielder on the club’s roster besides center fielder Adam Jones. With Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Endy Chavez on the disabled list, the Orioles had been using infielders-by-trade Chris Davis, Steve Pearce, Steve Tolleson, Ryan Flaherty and even Robert Andino in the outfield.
“That had a lot to do with it,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter about the need for another outfielder who can play center if needed. “But the guys we’ve put out there have done a good job, all things considered.”
Showalter said Avery wouldn’t be the sole left fielder – that Pearce would still get some time there – but that Avery was not called up to simply ride the bench.
Johnson will undergo an MRI on his right wrist on Friday to determine the severity of the injury. He felt the pain while taking a swing in the first inning Wednesday.
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He’s had several surgeries on the wrist including the latest in May 2010. Johnson is hopeful the injury is not as severe as the ones in the past; he could be back as soon as the All-Star Break ends.
“It didn’t really swell up like it has in the past. Hopefully, a couple cortisone shots will do the trick. I don’t know,” said Johnson, who has no shots scheduled so far.
The Orioles are currently limited to a three-man bench with a 13-man pitching staff.
For now, Tommy Hunter will remain in the bullpen and lefty Dana Eveland will make Saturday’s start against the Cleveland Indians, who have really struggled against lefties this year. That was only part of the decision, Showalter said. With lefties Wei-Yin Chen pitching Thursday and Brian Matusz starting Sunday, Showalter said he preferred having Hunter, a right-hander, in the bullpen to act as a long man.
Two other things to watch today relating to the Orioles: Dylan Bundy pitches for Frederick tonight and Dontrelle Willis makes his first start for Triple-A Norfolk.
Here’s Thursday’s lineup for the Orioles: Roberts 4, Avery 7, Hardy 6, Jones 8, Davis DH, Wieters 2, Betemit 5, Reynolds 3, Flaherty 9. Chen 1.
Here’s the Indians lineup: Choo 9, Cabrera 6, Kipnis 4, Lopez 3, Brantley 8, Duncan DH, Damon 7, Hannahan 5, Marson 2. McAllister 1.