The Orioles, losers of nine of their past 10 games, were prepared to play their scheduled series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. Instead, they got a badly needed night off.
The game was officially postponed two hours before the scheduled first pitch just as a band of storms bore down on Camden Yards, and the teams will make it up as part of a single-admission doubleheader May 12.
As plans to potentially reschedule the game were going on, infielder Tim Beckham was undergoing an MRI to reveal the severity of a groin injury that will likely land him on the disabled list. Tuesday's postponement allowed the Orioles to wait to put him on the 10-day disabled list until Wednesday, when newly claimed infielder Jace Peterson can be added to the active roster and become available.
The addition of Peterson supplements an infield depleted by injuries to Beckham and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who is already on the disabled list with an oblique injury.
The postponement provided the Orioles (6-17) with a much-needed additional day to allow injured players to heal.
It gave left fielder Trey Mancini an extra day of rest before testing his right knee in left field after he collided with the wall in foul ground three days ago. He returned as a late-inning pinch-hitter Monday night but had yet to return to the field. Schoop and Mark Trumbo (quadriceps) were able to continue their progress from injuries as well.
The rainout was the Orioles' second in nine days. Their Patriots Day game in Boston on April 16 was postponed until May 17, so combined with the May 12 doubleheader created by Tuesday's rainout, the Orioles will play 27 games in a 27-game stretch following their six-game West Coast trip in the first week of May.
"We're preparing to play a game tonight and try to win it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before the game was postponed. "I know doubleheaders, you always end up paying a price for them, but we're getting ready to play a game tonight, trying to win a game, trying get things righted. When you start approaching things like that, all of a sudden the skies part and the weather report is wrong and you've compounded your problem. I'll let you figure out what we should be thinking as opposed to what we're publicly thinking."
In all likelihood, Beckham — who left Monday night's game after running the base paths gingerly following an eighth-inning single — will go on the disabled list before Wednesday's game, becoming the team's sixth player on the DL.
Beckham first injured the groin late in spring training. He tweaked it March 22 was still in the Opening Day starting lineup a week later. He is also dealing with a sore Achilles tendon, but the major concern is with his groin, Showalter said.
"I'd be surprised if he's not DL'ed at some point," Showalter said of Beckham. "It's just a matter of when. … I think the groin [is more concerning]. He's been playing with some soreness there, some days are good, some days are bad — or worse — I wouldn't say bad. But I don't think the heel would have been DL'able. He would have been able to play with it. But the combination of the two would have been a challenge. I think he's finishing up an MRI now to make sure he knows what we're dealing with."
Beckham's injury and Schoop's oblique strain leave the Orioles without two starting infielders, and exposes the team's lack of internal infield depth. While Schoop is progressing toward a return by resuming baseball activities, the Orioles must bring him along cautiously because oblique injuries can regress with one false swing or quick move.
"It's such a slippery slope, that injury," Showalter said. "You think everything's fine and you're torqueing and everything, even in minor league games, there's just such a different sense of exertion and effort in a major league game. It's just something different, and I've seen really good patterns follow and there's no way that anything's wrong and one swing puts them back to square one."
The rash of injuries has affected some of the team's most durable players. Schoop had missed just two games since the beginning of the 2016 season before he was hurt, and Beckham played in his first 47 games since joining the Orioles at last year's trade deadline before missing five of the last eight games of the season with a hamstring injury.
And because of that, Peterson, who was claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees on Tuesday afternoon, will likely contribute immediately. A 2011 first-round supplemental draft pick of the San Diego Padres, he has 386 games of major league experience, primarily as a second baseman, though he's also played third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions at the big league level.
“Peterson is a versatile player who has experience playing all over the field who had his best year in 2015 playing second base,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said in a text message. “Given our need and his experience, he should be able to contribute right away to the O’s.”
A left-handed hitter, Peterson played in a career-high 152 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2015, including 137 starts at second base, while hitting .239/.314/.335 with 23 doubles, five triples, six home runs and 52 RBIs, while going 12-for-22 on stolen-base attempts.
“Has some versatility to his game, and a guy that’s got some experience in the big leagues,” Showalter said of Peterson. “Has a skill set that hopefully will play here and something we’re in need of. So I think he is flying in late [Tuesday] and probably will fit in the picture [Wednesday]. That's why sometimes with the Beckham thing timing is kind of a challenge.”