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Stiff back keeps Wieters out of lineup

Stiff back keeps Wieters out of lineup
Orioles manager Buck Showalter stands with catcher Matt Wieters in the dugout during the second inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. (Brian Blanco / Getty Images)

Matt Wieters was out of the starting lineup for the first time since the All-Star Break in Sunday's 5-2 win over the Rays after complaining of back stiffness following Saturday's game against Tampa Bay.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to start Wieters at first base in Sunday's series finale at Tropicana Field, especially since he is hitting .571 (8-for-14) with two home runs against Matt Moore, who started for the Rays on Sunday.

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Wieters had been doing pregame work at first base the previous two days.

Showalter said he expected Wieters to be back behind the plate when the Orioles open their three-game series against the Atlanta Braves on Monday at Camden Yards.

"He's a lot better today," Showalter said. "I think he'll be fine to catch tomorrow. … I talked to him this morning. I know it was more of a definite 'no' last night than talking to him today. He's a lot better today, but I don't want to jeopardize tomorrow.

"It just stiffened up on him a couple times. You couldn't tell from him catching. I thought he had a heck of a game behind the plate, but he said it was challenging the past couple of innings."

Wieters started his seventh consecutive game since the All-Star Break on Saturday, but has played catcher on back-to-back days just once — July 6 and 7 — since returning from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Otherwise, he is still catching every other day, but the Orioles have kept Wieters' bat in the lineup by slotting him as the designated hitter.

But he hasn't had much success there. Wieters is 1-for-17 with eight strikeouts as a designated hitter this season and is a career .196 hitter in 153 plate appearances as a DH.

Reimold has mixed results in Sunday's start

Starts have been few and far between for Nolan Reimold, but the Orioles right fielder recorded a three-hit, two-RBI game in his third start since the All-Star Break. It was his first three-hit game since April 20, 2012.

But Reimold also committed two miscues, misplaying a fly ball hit to right field by Tim Beckham that dropped for a double to lead off the fifth inning, the first hit in an inning during which starter Wei-Yin Chen had to work out of a bases-loaded jam.

In an attempt to score on Jonathan Schoop's two-out single in the eighth, Reimold also ran through third base coach Bobby Dickerson's stop sign, and was caught in a rundown between third and home to end the inning.

"We'll talk about it," Showalter said. "We already have and we'll move on. You can't dwell on those things. It's hard to do. … He did some good things, three hits today. We talked about how some things will go our way, too. People hitting chalk lines and hitting bags. Nolan had two broken-bat singles, we had two duck flares that trickled through a shift, so we had some things go our way, too."

Reimold said he missed Dickerson's stop sign because he was looking down as he rounded third base after seeing Schoop's hit drop in the gap.

"It was a mistake," Reimold said. "I was thinking, when I saw the ball go in the gap, I was just putting my head down running. By the time I looked up, it was too late. It was a mental lapse. Things like that can't happen. I'm glad we won because then I'd feel a lot worse if we didn't win."

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Reimold said he overpursued Beckham's fly ball and then lost it in the two rows of lights along the Tropicana Field catwalk.

"It looks a lot worse than it is, that play down the line," Reimold said. "It's not an excuse. It needed to be caught. Chen really got out of a jam and got me out of a jam, so I appreciate him doing that, bearing down and getting some guys out. I'm glad that didn't come back to cost us a couple runs that inning."

With the Orioles faces two lefties in their upcoming three-game series against the Braves, Reimold figured to get more opportunities to start, but he said he realizes he needs to play better defense to keep himself in the lineup.

"It's good to get a couple hits and hopefully carry it over to the next game," Reimold said. "I'm glad I got a couple hits, but I've got to play good defense."

Showalter looking for more from Lough

David Lough — who had two hits, including a triple, and scored two runs hitting out of the leadoff spot in Saturday's win — was back atop the lineup in Sunday's finale.

Lough was hitless in five at-bats on Sunday, but recorded his second outfield assist of the season when he threw out James Loney, who was attempting to extend a single into a double, to end the eighth inning. It was the Orioles' majors-leading 28th outfield assist.

Before the game, Showalter said he'd like to see Lough — who is considered one of the team's speediest players — utilize his athleticism more.

Lough legged out a triple in the eighth inning on Saturday night, hitting a ball down the right field line that would have been a double for most. His aggressiveness forced an errant relay throw to third, which allowed him to score.

"It's attractive to everybody, guys who can score from first on a double and second on a single," Showalter said. "There's a lot of guys who can run a good time in a 60-yard dash but it doesn't play into baseball speed … David pushed the envelope a little bit last night. On paper, [with] a good throw and he's probably out but he pushed the envelope and got a return for it.

"You want athletic guys to play athletically. There's a lot of guys who can test well in the standing broad jump and the 10-yard dash and all that stuff, but is it baseball playable? He's capable of that. I just want him to play with a little more ... to take advantage of his athletic skills."

Around the horn

The Orioles plan to decide Monday whether Steve Pearce, who is on the disabled list with a left oblique strain, will remain with the club or go to Sarasota for rehab. Pearce will be re-evaluated on Monday in Baltimore by team trainers. … Closer Zach Britton has converted 21 straight save opportunities, the fourth longest streak in club history behind Jim Johnson (35), Randy Myers (34) and Johnson again (25).

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