Orioles' Guthrie, Showalter criticize umpiring in Red Sox series

A contentious four-game series with the Boston Red Sox ended Sunday with four more ejections, Michael Gonzalez's not denying that he threw a purpose pitch behind David Ortiz, and Buck Showalter and Jeremy Guthrie criticizing the umpiring crew.

"I've said it before: Sometimes those who are in control of the game — I know the umpires have to control it — show a lack of feel by not understanding what is going on," said Guthrie, who hit Kevin Youkilis with a changeup to load the bases with two outs in the fourth inning, resulting in plate umpire Marty Foster's warning both benches.

"I think that's … not having been in the situation, not having played the game at a high level, probably. You got first and third and you throw a changeup to the guy trying to get a ground ball, and I miss up and in. If they really had issues with people being hit, they could have warned the benches the second time one of our players were hit versus the third hit batsman of the game on a changeup on a situation where I clearly wasn't intending to hit a gentleman. It's difficult, but I'm sure nothing will happen and we'll just keep going forward from there."

Two days after Ortiz and Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg were the main combatants in a benches-clearing incident and one day after Red Sox starter John Lackey hit two Orioles, Boston right-hander Kyle Weiland and manager Terry Francona were ejected after the rookie hit Vladimir Guerrero in the right hand in the fifth inning. Weiland also hit Mark Reynolds in the right hand in the third.

"They lead all of baseball in hit by pitches. I lost two players today. I don't think it was intentional from the young kid; location was a challenge for him," Showalter said. "I don't think there was any intent there on his part. I just know that we got hit four, five times here and it wasn't particularly pleasant. You are looking at Mark Reynolds and Guerrero having broken hands at the time. It looks like we might have dodged the bullet with the initial X-rays, but you don't know what could show up down the line. It doesn't make you happy."

Showalter did say he felt Lackey intentionally threw at Derrek Lee in the seventh inning Saturday night.

"I know the umpires are trying," Showalter said. "I just wish they would have issued the warnings before the game started because Lackey should have been thrown out of the game for hitting Lee. That was [as] intentional as it gets. [It'll] be interesting to see if they hand down any punishment for Lackey."

Gonzalez could face disciplinary action as he didn't exactly deny that he was trying to send a message to the Red Sox by throwing behind Ortiz in the sixth inning. He and Showalter were ejected afterward.

"Very frustrated. I've seen our guys get hit accidently. It's just how it is. It's how the game goes. That's about it with that," Gonzalez said.

Hardy optimistic

With the Orioles and his agent engaging in semi-regular conversations about a potential contract extension, shortstop J.J. Hardy is hopeful that an agreement can be reached during the All-Star break.

"I hope it gets done during the break," said Hardy, who is a free agent after the season. "I don't know if it will. Right now, the ball is kind of in their court. That's where it's at."

Hardy didn't want to comment specifically on the negotiations, but he acknowledged that he was optimistic with the dialogue the two sides have had. If the Orioles can't reach an extension with Hardy before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, they would likely consider moving the sure-handed shortstop who is batting .278 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs. Hardy struggled on the road trip, going 5-for-40 (.125), though two of those hits were home runs.

Hardy has made it clear that his main goal is re-signing with the Orioles, who acquired him before the season in a trade with the Minnesota Twins for minor league relievers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.

"If it doesn't get done during the break, hopefully we'll make some good progress," Hardy said.

As the rotation turns

Jeremy Guthrie pitched 31/3 innings in relief Sunday and Mitch Atkins' start lasted just 12/3 innings, which could again shuffle the Orioles' second-half rotation. The original plan was for Guthrie to start the second-half opener Thursday against the Cleveland Indians, followed by Jake Arrieta, Alfredo Simon and Atkins, with the fifth spot to be determined.

However, Showalter might have to flip-flop Guthrie with Arrieta, and it's unclear whether Atkins will get another start. Simon's spot is set because he has to leave the team the day after his start to return to the Dominican Republic and attend a hearing related to the fatal New Year's Day shooting in which he has been a primary suspect.

Hendrickson on Matusz

Veteran reliever Mark Hendrickson has mentored several of the organization's young pitchers, so it was probably fitting that on the day he learned he was headed back to the big leagues, he spent several hours with struggling left-hander Brian Matusz.

They found a YMCA in Durham, N.C., and shot basketball for about 45 minutes, then went out for lunch.

"It was just a good opportunity to talk. I've been where he's at," Hendrickson said. "This division is going to make you learn, sometimes through failure. I think he'll be better off for it, and for him, I think it is a good opportunity to get away from everything, concentrate on his pitching and just mentally get that break. Hopefully, he'll keep working at it. He's going to be a valuable asset to this organization."

Matusz, the 24-year-old who was being counted on to be one of the Orioles' top starters this season, was demoted June 30 with a 1-4 record and 8.77 ERA.

On Sunday, he made his second start since that demotion, allowing two runs, six hits and three walks in 51/3 innings of Triple-A Norfolk's game versus Durham. He struck out six, throwing 60 of his 105 pitches for strikes.

Around the horn

Reynolds and Guerrero had X-rays that came out negative. … The Orioles have lost six straight games to the Red Sox and allowed 10 or more hits in each of those games. … Left fielder Luke Scott (torn labrum in right shoulder) will see team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens and get a cortisone shot Monday. … Triple-A third baseman Josh Bell tied a Norfolk record Saturday night with four errors. … The Orioles still haven't heard about any potential discipline from the league involving Friday's bench-clearing incident, and it's possible that they won't until Wednesday or Thursday with Major League Baseball officials tied up with All-Star festivities. … Orioles top prospect Manny Machado was the starting shortstop for the U.S. team and went 0-for-2 in Sunday's Futures Game, part of baseball's All-Star festivities in Phoenix. Infield prospect Jonathan Schoop, playing for the World team, singled and was picked off first base. … Tennis great Andre Agassi, who was inducted over the weekend into the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., attended Sunday's game with his wife and fellow tennis Hall of Famer, Steffi Graf.