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Orioles still figuring out what to do with six starting pitchers

The Orioles have a problem that no one could have possibly imagined they might have just a few weeks ago.

They've got one too many starting pitchers … at least for the moment.

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The acquisition of right-hander Jeremy Hellickson before the nonwaiver trade deadline paid an instant dividend when he delivered a dominant performance in his Orioles debut Wednesday night. Now, manager Buck Showalter has to decide which of the other five starters will be displaced or find a way to use all six.

The key might be finding somebody who can be successful in a flexible role that would allow Showalter to get strategic rest for young pitchers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Veterans Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jiménez appear to be the most obvious options to remove from the rotation, but the situation is not as simple as it would have been back when both were struggling. Jiménez is coming off two straight strong starts and Miley delivered a solid performance his last time out.

Miley and Jiménez are both scheduled to start this weekend against the Detroit Tigers and Showater has indicated that is not likely to change.

If the uncertainty is problematic, Miley said he's ready to do whatever it takes to keep the Orioles on a roll.

"It's their decision," he said. "We're going to pitch when they tell us to pitch and hopefully try to throw up as many zeroes as possible. Whatever they want to do and whatever they think is best for the Baltimore Orioles to make a run at this thing, I think we're all in as a group and whatever they want us to do we're going to do."

At the moment, the Orioles are in the middle of a six-game, six-starter stretch, but keeping six starters means going with one fewer reliever or position player.

"I've seen it done before," Miley said. "To me, it's easier to do in the American League because you don't need as many position players on the bench. The DH kind of allows that to happen. We're playing good ball now and I wouldn't change nothing. Ride this wave as long as you can and see where it gets us."

Mancini cleaning up

Trey Mancini has bounced around the Orioles lineup over the course of his rookie season, which has presented some predictable challenges for a player who probably didn't expect to play regularly in the major leagues this year.

He has spent most of the season hitting in the bottom half of the order, but has moved up as he established himself as one of the most productive hitters on the team.

Now, by necessity, he has moved into the cleanup spot against left-handed starting pitchers and hasn't missed a beat. He entered Thursday's game with five hits in his first 11 at-bats starting as the No. 4 hitter.

He said on Thursday that he never imagined he would ever hit cleanup in the power-packed Orioles batting order.

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"It certainly wasn't anything that crossed my mind," Mancini said. "It's a great privilege and an honor to hit there with all these great players around me. It has just been great."

It's obviously temporary, prompted by the rib cage injury that has sidelined Mark Trumbo, just as Mancini's move up to the fifth slot was prompted by the oblique injury that placed Chris Davis on the shelf for an extended period.

Mancini said he doesn't change his approach at the plate depending on his position in the lineup.

"Not really, especially after your first at-bat, the way that innings happen, you're going to bat leadoff some innings and everything in between," Mancini said. "It almost becomes [irrelevant]. You're going to come up sooner in the order, but I don't look at is as added pressure or anything like that.

"And I've hit — in the minors — cleanup more than anywhere else … and growing up. … So I'm definitely comfortable in that spot."

Medical report

Utility man Ryan Flaherty (shoulder), a native of Portland, Maine, will get a chance to spend some time at home this weekend. He's going to continue his injury rehabilitation with Double-A Bowie, which is scheduled to play on the road at the Portland Sea Dogs.

"I talked to Ryan and the ballpark is a half-mile from his house,'' Showalter said, "so that worked out for him."

Trumbo is pain-free and will move forward in his rehab program. He could be taking batting practice soon. He'll likely get a few at-bats at a minor league affiliate before coming off the disabled list.

Rule 5 draftee Anthony Santander (shoulder/elbow) is just a couple of weeks from the day he has to be placed on the 25-man roster. The outfielder's injury rehab assignment ends Aug. 15. What happens after that will depend on where he is health-wise and the Orioles' roster situation.

Right-hander Hunter Harvey (elbow) will pitch for Short-A Aberdeen on Wednesday. He pitched two innings for the Orioles' Gulf Coast League team Wednesday. Showalter continues to suggest that Harvey will not go to a fall league this year, instead enjoying a regular offseason before heading to spring training.

Giavotella clears

Second baseman Johnny Giavotella cleared waivers Thursday and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.

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