The clouded Orioles pitching situation got a little clearer after Sunday's 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, but the club still faces a potentially difficult roster decision on Monday.
Orioles starters Chris Tillman and Bud Norris were not available for Sunday's start and remain questionable for the series against the Seattle Mariners, which begins on Tuesday night at Camden Yards. Minor league pitcher Tyler Wilson is in town just in case he's needed to make either a spot start or fill out the bullpen.
Wilson joined the club on Saturday night and it originally appeared that he might pitch Tuesday if Tillman (back spasms) and Norris (bronchitis) aren't ready to go. But manager Buck Showalter said after Mike Wright's impressive major league debut against the Angels that Miguel Gonzalez will pitch the first game against the Mariners and Wei-Yin Chen could pitch Wednesday night.
If Tillman's condition continues to improve, he also could start Wednesday, or in the series finale on Thursday afternoon. He said after Sunday's game that he plans to come back to the ballpark on the team's day off to be re-evaluated by head athletic trainer Richie Bancells.
The club has to make the decision to add Wilson to the roster by 8 p.m. on Monday night or send him to rejoin the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, who will be playing the Bats in Lousiville, Ky. Though Wilson probably won't be needed to start, Showalter would like to have another reliever available, and Wright would not be an option for several days.
The Orioles could decide to keep Wright and put Norris in the bullpen while he regains his strength.
"He's lost about eight-to-10 pounds,'' Showalter said, "so we'll play it by ear for the next day or two."
The other option would be to put either Norris or Tillman on the disabled list and keep both young pitchers, but Norris seems to be through the worst of his chest ailment and Tillman has improved to the point where only Tuesday's start is totally out of the question.
"We'll talk about it,'' Showalter said. "We had three or four factors that we were waiting on. One was this game. Bud was available. He was cleared by the doctor today. He was in the 'pen today and Tillman is inching along."
Norris' illness already forced the Orioles to have Ubaldo Jimenez start ahead of his usual turn on Saturday, and the back soreness that Tillman is experiencing created the opportunity for Wright to show off his 98-mph fastball in front of a big league crowd on Sunday.
Watching Mr. Wright
Wright's major league teammates enjoyed the show he put on for 71/3 innings, and Adam Jones rewarded him with his first pie in the face.
"It was good,'' Jones said. "I'm happy for him. He went out there and pitched. He went out there and threw strikes. That's the main thing. He knows what he has. I told him after the game, 'just trust your stuff.'"
Steve Pearce said that the highlight of the day was when the crowd gave Wright a standing ovation as he left the mound in the eighth inning.
"That was awesome,'' Pearce said. "The crowd, when they gave him that ovation, that was chilling. I was so happy for him. He didn't look like a rookie out there pitching. He had some swagger on the mound. You actually see it. You could see him rolling. He got into his zone and he looked very comfortable out there. That's very impressive, what he did out there today."
The Orioles are hoping that Kevin Gausman will be ready to throw a simulated game on May 27. He is scheduled to start throwing on Monday and will throw on alternating days until he's ready for a mound session.
Gausman said on Sunday that his sore shoulder is now pain-free, but the club is taking no chances with its top pitching prospect.
"It feels fine,'' he said. "Now I'm kind of mad at myself for even missing time at all. I think it was kind of a smaller thing than what I thought. But everything's fine. I'm good to go now and I'm excited to start throwing again."
Around the horn
Third baseman Manny Machado is hosting his second annual charity bowling tournament Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Mustang Alley on Bank Street. Announced guests include Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., and teammates such as Jones and Chris Davis. A silent auction will be held and proceeds from the event go to the Baltimore City Foundation, which, among other things, helps fund summer youth baseball programs. …. WWE star Seth Rollins threw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday. WWE held a pay-per-view event at Royal Farms Arena on Sunday night. … Machado had his streak of reaching base safely in 20 consecutive games snapped Saturday, as well as his seven-game hitting streak, but had a walk and a single in four plate appearances in Sunday's game.