Orioles' infielder Wilson Betemit hasn't played since last Saturday, but it turns out there might be a reason other than the arrival of prospect Manny Machado from the minor leagues.
Before Wednesday's game, Orioles' manager Buck Showalter revealed Betemit has been dealing with a sore right wrist since before Tuesday's game, and he will get an MRI on the wrist Thursday. The club is hopeful that it is nothing more than tendinitis.
"He tried to hit a little bit today, and he's day to day," Showalter said Wednesday. "He's better than he was yesterday."
A platoon between Betemit and Mark Reynolds at first base seemed to be the best of both worlds for the Orioles — Betemit can hit right-handers much better than Reynolds can, and Reynolds can hit left-handers much better than Betemit.
The switch-hitting Betemit is hitting .264 this season — .306 from the left side of the plate and .143 when he's hitting from the right side against lefties. Because the right wrist is the bottom wrist on left-handed swings, it could spell trouble for Betemit's production from that side of the plate.
Reynolds is hitting .196 against right-handers, but .266 against left-handers.
Of course, statistics aren't foolproof, and baseball is a fickle game. Reynolds carried the Orioles' offense last night, hitting two home runs and driving in four runs. One of those homers was against right-handed Boston starter Josh Beckett.
If Betemit's wrist wasn't acting up, there's a chance Reynolds wouldn't have started Tuesday, and wouldn't have hit those two home runs.
Thome the scout
Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy made his Double-A debut Tuesday night in Bowie, and the Orioles sent one man more than usual to scout the 19-year-old's start.
That unconventional scout was Orioles slugger Jim Thome — he of 19 major league seasons — who is rehabbing a herniated disk in his neck.
Showalter sent Thome to Bowie to get a hitter's perspective on Bundy, and the 41-year old Thome was impressed with what he saw.
"He has a big bright career ahead of him," Thome said of Bundy on Wednesday. "He's definitely got so much upside to him. He might be one of the best young pitchers I have seen in quite a while."
Showalter was also impressed with the job that Thome did scouting, saying the report he got back from his veteran designated hitter was very similar to the report that he got back from the regular scouts.
"Jimmy's got a future," Showalter said. "He enjoyed it too, and said he had a lot of fun."
Even though Showalter thinks Thome has a future in scouting or development after his playing days, Thome wouldn't comment on his plans after retirement.
"It's hard to say. When I'm done playing I want to spend some time with my kids," he said. "Maybe one day a little bit, but not right away. I want to watch or coach my kids and be around them for a little while. We'll see as it goes."
Thome was scheduled to head home to Illinois on Wednesday night to continue rehab on his neck.
Matusz to bullpen
Showalter announced on Tuesday that the club is going to experiment with former starter Brian Matsuz in the bullpen in Triple-A Norfolk, in hopes of getting another left-handed reliever in Baltimore in September.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette said the organization's move to make Matusz a reliever fills a temporary need and that the 25-year-old till has a promising future as a starter.
"It's for now," Duquette said. "It's to address a need we have in the big league club we've been trying to address."
Duquette said Matusz was told he's moving to the bullpen Tuesday by Norfolk manager Ron Johnson, and he was receptive to the move. Matusz was slated to start Thursday for Norfolk, but Dana Eveland is now scheduled to start that game. Duquette indicated Matusz would be used out of the bullpen starting Wednesday.
"We discussed it with him," Duquette said. "For it to succeed, he'd have to be open to it. He's open to it. He may get the call tonight. We'll see how he does."
Matusz was sent down to Triple-A early last month after going 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts with the Orioles. But the O's believe he's established a resume of success getting left-handed hitters out, which could be best served in the bullpen
Over the course of his major league career, Matusz has held left-handers to a .233/.281/384 batting line, and he has a 4.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio against lefty batters. This season, he held major league lefties to a .174/.237/.302 line.
"We've been considering it for a little while," Duquette said. "We've been trying to see if we could add another left-hander to our bullpen, so we looked at some of our internal options, too. Brian's always had a good record of getting out lefties his whole career. He gets out lefties very, very well."
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Duquette didn't put a timetable on how long it might take Matusz to get adjusted to the bullpen.
"We'd like him to get some experience in the job and get comfortable with the warmup routine," Duquette said. "It's a different job. There are different physical requirements.
Around the horn
Machado became the first position player in the 10-year history of the MLB Player of the Week award to win it in his first week of eligibility … With a win Tuesday, the Orioles improved to 8-4 this season in games after a day off … Wei-Yin Chen's win Tuesday was his 11th of the year, matching the Orioles' team leader from last year, Zach Britton.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this report.