Trying to clear up a muddy Orioles rotation picture

The Orioles' starters are currently listed as "to be announced" for Thursday and Friday. The TBA was expected for Friday after Tommy Hunter was sent to Triple-A Norfolk, but Thursday's potential opening is a bit of a surprise.

Jason Hammel is dealing with right knee soreness and most likely will have his start Thursday skipped. If he only needs one day, then he could theoretically pitch Friday. But that seems highly unlikely. At this point, the Orioles think Hammel, who has been the club's most effective starter, will be able to avoid the disabled list.

Still, everything is a bit muddied.

Honestly, I don't believe this is one of those "we know it and we aren't telling you" situations. The truth is the Orioles are waiting on several things to hash out before they can make a call.

One of the biggest questions is the health of outfielder Endy Chavez. With Nolan Reimold out (bulging disk in neck), Chavez is basically the club's starting left fielder. But he is dealing with a lingering intercostal strain and is out of Wednesday's lineup.

It is a potential disabled list situation – but the club doesn't want to DL him unless it has to because it doesn't have a "true" outfield backup. Ryan Flaherty, Wilson Betemit and Steve Tolleson, who was called up Wednesday, can play left – but all are natural infielders.

However, if Chavez is placed on the DL, the pitching situation can clear up a little. Confused?

Well, if Chavez is placed on the DL, then the Orioles can recall Hunter, who was sent down on Monday. Hunter, who pitched Sunday, would be able to take Hammel's spot on Thursday or perhaps pitch in what was his turn Friday. But Hunter can only be recalled before the requisite 10 days if someone else is placed on the DL (likely Chavez in this instance).

Another possibility for Thursday is Chris Tillman, who last pitched Sunday for Norfolk. He is 3-3 with a 5.10 ERA but allowed just two runs in Sunday's six-inning start.

Tillman and Hunter would both be starting on three days' rest, one short of usual rest for starters.

Brad Bergesen, who is also on the 40-man roster, is scheduled to start Thursday for Norfolk. He had been demoted briefly to the bullpen at Norfolk and has a 6.04 ERA in seven games (five starts), so he seems like an unlikely option against the powerful Texas Rangers. But he is on turn.

Lefty Dana Eveland (3-2, 2.21 ERA) is expected to be recalled for Friday's game, but that could change if Hammel were pushed back only one day. Or if Chavez is disabled, the Orioles would then have the option to recall Hunter and have him pitch on usual rest.

Got it?

Recommended on Baltimore Sun