Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo was in the starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Boston Red Sox and was limited to pinch-hit duty Saturday night because of continuing soreness in his right knee.
Manager Buck Showalter said before the game that Trumbo likely would receive an anti-inflammatory injection Sunday, but held out hope that the club’s No. 2 run producer will be available for the upcoming two-game interleague series against the New York Mets that begins Tuesday at Oriole Park.
Trumbo, who missed a month at the start of the season with a severe quadriceps strain, has missed games occasionally with the current knee problem and has had the swollen knee drained a couple of times.
“Mark’s knee is barking on him a little bit,’’ Showalter said. “We don’t like some of the characteristics, so we’re going to try to get him most of the second game last night, today and tomorrow. He’ll probably get an injection today if I don’t use him.
“He could play today and he could pinch hit, but I want to try to get ahead of this. … Structurally, [the knee] is in good shape. He’s just got some irritation in there, rubbing on the knee cap.”
Trumbo did come up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning and struck out against Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel.
Villar back at second
Infielder Jonathan Villar was back at second base for Sunday’s game after filling in for Tim Beckham at shortstop in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, but remained in the No. 2 slot in the batting order.
Showalter said recently that he would give Villar some playing time at shortstop, but the timing of his first appearance there for the Orioles was curious coming in the wake of some erratic fielding by Beckham.
“I think Jonathan has got enough reps there,’’ Showalter said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good [idea]. If you look at his track record, he’s got a number of games at shortstop.
“He started as a shortstop, so I think we’ll get enough looks just to verify what we think, but I really want to give Tim a good look there.”
There are a lot of games left to play, and Showalter said that he also hoped to get rookie infielder Steve Wilkerson some time at shortstop when he comes back from an oblique injury.
“He’s got to be close, I would think,’’ Showalter said.
Showalter is still looking for a perfect schematic for evaluating the team’s young bullpen arms.
“Where’s the perfect spot?” Showalter said. “I mean, I’m not going to let them sit down there three or four days without pitching. I’m trying to get Evan Phillips and Cody Carroll off on the same day. They haven’t pitched much back-to-back at all this year. I think you’ve got to rub some of the anxiety off of them.”
It’s way too early to draw any long-range conclusions, but Showalter said he’s hopeful that the relievers who have been called up and some who haven’t yet will eventually knit together to become the kind of solid, role-defined unit he had during the Orioles’ best recent seasons.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to make that phone call [to the bullpen] and nobody had to answer it,” Showalter said. “That was the utopia that you try to get to with a bullpen. It helps when you have Andrew Miller down there and Zach Britton. That makes it easy.”
Some Orioles hitters weren’t happy with several ball-strike calls by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt on Saturday night, and Showalter was particularly displeased with the reaction of the umpire after he was questioned by a young player on a key strike that appeared to be well outside the television strike zone rectangle.
“Unacceptable,’’ Showalter said, “especially with an umpire with his experience.”
Around the horn
Chris Davis played in his 1,000th career game with the Orioles in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. He has played in 1,266 major league games overall. …Dating back to Saturday night’s game, Davis has struck out five straight times … he Orioles entered Sunday’s game ranked first in the major leagues with a .287 team batting average since the All-Star break.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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