Orioles notes: More rotation questions leave Showalter pondering piggyback role

The Orioles will likely need to fill another starting pitching hole for Monday’s series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays after right-hander Andrew Cashner, who left his most recent start with a sore left knee, was unable to take a between-starts work day Saturday, putting his scheduled start for Monday in jeopardy.

The club already is without right-hander Alex Cobb, who will miss his next start — rookie David Hess will replace him Sunday in the Orioles’ series finale against the Chicago White Sox — and likely won’t return to the rotation until Friday at the earliest.

“That’s going to be a pretty slow play,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I know he talked about maybe playing some catch [Sunday].”

And there’s no timetable on rookie right-hander Luis Ortiz, who left his first major league start in the second inning with a hamstring injury. Ortiz, 22, suffered a similar injury that cost him time earlier this season before the Orioles acquired him from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Jonathan Schoop trade.

“He’s pretty sore today,” Showalter said. “I’m not sure what the next step is, whether he will get an MRI here, whether he’ll go to Sarasota. I haven’t heard anything.”

In finding a way to fill the rotation, Showalter didn’t rule out piggybacking spot starters or relievers to make up innings.

“We’re already there, aren’t we? It depends on how you want to define it,” Showalter said. “You can use whatever [term]. You can all it tandem, you can call it piggyback. You can call it opener. You can call it whatever you want. It’s this guy is going to start the game, see how far [he goes], but there are some limits on our guys.”

Showalter added that it is possible the team adds a pitcher from outside the current 40-man roster — right-hander John Means is one potential option — to fill a rotation spot.

“He presented himself pretty well in Triple-A. He’s an option, especially when you look at the guys you have to protect anyway,” Showalter said.

Learning curves

Showalter bemoaned his young outfielders overpursuing balls into the gap, attempting to track them to the wall and getting caught chasing them when they bounce off the wall, saying that some misplays have been the difference between doubles and triples.

“One of the things you’re taught as an outfielder, and [outfield coach Wayne] Kirby talks about it, is that when you’re running after a ball and you can’t catch it and you know it’s a sure double … if you watch how many young outfielders turn doubles into triples by continuing toward the wall,” Showalter said. “We did it in Tampa, especially with one out, and we’ve done it three times up here in the last 10 days, we’ve turned a double into a triple with one out. That’s a play you’ve got to think about before the ball is hit. ‘Here’s a average to below-average runner. This is going to be a sure double. I don’t need to anything else but let it be a double.’ ”

Showalter pointed to Nicky Delmonico’s second-inning triple in Friday’s loss to the White Sox, a ball that center fielder Cedric Mullins chased to the wall and didn’t handle cleanly off the wall.

“He thinks he can catch the ball,” Showalter said. “But the difference here is the ball carries a little bit further [when] they’re hit a little bit harder. There’s a little more backspin on them and you think you can catch. He thinks he’s a stride from getting there, but he doesn’t get there. And all of a sudden you’ve got a man sitting there with one out.”

Around the horn

Utility man Steve Wilkerson (oblique) is expected to return Tuesday or Wednesday and will likely play around the infield, Showalter said. “When you’re talking about guys who can play all over, there’s one question, ‘Can he play shortstop?’ ” … Hall of Fame Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson was on hand to present Mullins with the organization’s Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year award Saturday.

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