Unless something changes dramatically, Orioles designated hitter Wilson Betemit will be making his 2013 debut this week in Boston, possibly starting Wednesday at Fenway Park against a right-hander.
On the disabled list all season after tearing a ligament in his right knee in March, Betemit's 20-day injury rehab assignment expires Monday, and it cannot be extended unless he re-aggravates the injury or suffers a new one. Otherwise, he'll have to be activated in a reasonable amount of time, meaning the club is unlikely to be able to be able to hold off his activation until rosters expand Sept. 1.
There is an open spot on the 40-man roster for Betemit, who is currently on the 60-day disabled list, but a move on the 25-man roster will have to be made when he is activated.
"We'll make a decision on that in the next 24 to 48 hours. He's improved, getting there," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's not something that happens overnight. It's a lot better than it was when he first started. I think he is going to get there."
Betemit, 31, batted .340 in his first 14 rehab games, but has struggled briefly at Triple-A Norfolk. He was hitless in 10 at-bats before doubling and scoring a run in the sixth Sunday. He also doesn't seem to be running as smoothly as the club would like, and for the Orioles he will be limited to DH and pinch-hitting duties, likely against right-handed pitchers, whom he's hit .281 against in his career.
"We want him here when he is right. And sometimes you run that risk with an injury like his you get back too early," Showalter said. "He has been playing for a long time now, so it's not like he's had an issue with it. But he is not running as well as he had."
Showalter initially thought the Orioles could agree with Betemit to extend the rehab assignment, but that's not the case. He said club executive vice president Dan Duquette was expected to talk to Betemit's agent Sunday.
A clash of Vandy guys
Ryan Flaherty got the start Sunday against Oakland rookie right-hander Sonny Gray. But it's not like Flaherty is unfamiliar with Gray, who, like Flaherty, went to Vanderbilt.
When Gray was a highly sought-after high school pitcher in Tennessee, he made his official visit to Vanderbilt and stayed the weekend with several upperclassmen, including Flaherty, who was a junior at the time. The two have worked out together some in the offseasons in Nashville.
"He was a super talent, and he was from Nashville, so he was kind of the hometown hero there," said Flaherty, who had a walk and a strikeout in two plate appearances against Gray on Sunday. "So you knew he was a big deal even coming out of high school."
Around the horn
RHP Kevin Gausman threw three scoreless innings and struck out four batters while allowing just one hit in an abbreviated start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. The club is limiting the rookie's innings in anticipation of a call-up for the stretch run. … Nick Markakis' third-inning double was his first extra base hit since July 19. He also homered for the first time since June 24. He had gone 31 games without an extra-base hit, by far the longest skid of his career. It was the second longest in the majors this year (Seattle's Brendan Ryan went his first 32 games without an extra-base hit). Since 1997, only Julio Lugo had a longer extra-base drought as an Oriole — 35 games in 2010. … Jason Hammel (right forearm) threw 60 pitches from a mound without any discomfort Sunday and will now head to Double-A Bowie to begin a rehab assignment. He'll start Thursday for the Baysox and is scheduled for 45 to 50 pitches or two to three innings, Showalter said. … Sunday's win was the 1,000th of Duquette's career, including when he ran teams in Montreal and Boston. … The Orioles pitching matchup for the key, three-game series in Boston this week is as follows: LHP Felix Doubront vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen on Tuesday; RHP John Lackey vs. RHP Bud Norris on Wednesday; LHP Jon Lester vs. RHP Chris Tillman on Thursday. … Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick re-aggravated his right wrist injury in his sixth inning at-bat and left the game.