BOSTON — The Orioles must make a roster move to create space for right-hander Alex Cobb before Saturday's matinee at Fenway Park, and there's no clear way the team is leaning.
They played with a short bench for four days last week when they added an extra reliever, but returned to a full bench when they recalled utility man Engelb Vielma on Wednesday and optioned right-hander Hunter Harvey to Bowie.
Having that bench player might be a luxury, and it seemed the Orioles would most likely send Vielma back to Triple-A Norfolk — that is, until Friday's game when second baseman Jonathan Schoop was removed in the eighth inning as a precaution after feeling discomfort while swinging in his final at-bat of the night.
While Schoop leaving Friday's game seemed precautionary, Vielma provides a natural backup at second base. Still, if Schoop needs some time off, the Orioles could improvise with their infield, shifting third baseman Tim Beckham to second base and putting Danny Valencia at third for the time being.
Regardless, Schoop's uncertain status adds a wrinkle to the roster move. The bullpen isn't very optionable, despite the addition of left-hander Donnie Hart. Hart pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings Friday, but could be needed again later in the series against a lefty-heavy Boston Red Sox lineup.
The other relievers with options — Miguel Castro, Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier — aren't going anywhere. That leaves Mike Wright Jr., who tossed 2 2/3 innings of one-run relief but has no minor league options left. Despite Chris Tillman's struggles, it doesn't appear the Orioles are ready to cut bait there yet.
Then again, it is times like this when the Orioles seem to stretch their creativity, and Saturday's pregame roster move to add Cobb might be another out-of-nowhere move like the one to place outfielder Colby Rasmus on the disabled list with a hip flexor injury.