With Tillman, rotation grows to six

With the pending recall of Triple-A starter Chris Tillman, the Orioles are, at least temporarily, going to a six-man rotation.

Tillman, who is 1-4 with a 7.92 ERA in six starts with the Orioles this season, is headed to Baltimore and will pitch Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, pushing the rotation back one slot.

So Brian Matusz, originally scheduled to face the Rays at Camden Yards, will now pitch against New York at Yankee Stadium on Monday. Jake Arrieta, who was supposed to start that game, will instead throw Tuesday, and Brad Bergesen will pitch Wednesday in the Orioles' last game in the Bronx this season.

The Orioles have an off day Thursday, and then Kevin Millwood will pitch on six days' rest against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Friday. That will begin a stint of starters resting for six days between starts instead of the usual four.

Tillman, who was 11-7 with a 3.34 ERA in 21 starts for the Tides this season, will be on regular rest Sunday before the next three starters throw on five days' rest. The rotation mix is further complicated because the Orioles have off days Thursday, Sept. 16 and Sept. 23.

"This time of year you like to stay in a routine as much as possible with pitchers," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's more of just, 'Get a ball in your hand and work out the kinks a little bit.' There are adjustments you can make to [six days' rest] to make it pretty seamless. During the year, there are many times when guys go with an extra day, too. But it's not necessarily a perfect situation, but there are some benefits from it, too."

The club has kicked around implementing a six-man rotation for a while so Showalter could further evaluate certain pitchers while limiting the innings of the young hurlers.

Arrieta is at 161 total innings between Triple-A and the Orioles, which is 101/3 higher than his previous best; Matusz, who has pitched only in the majors this year, is seven innings short of matching last year's pro debut of 1572/3 innings; Bergesen is 14 innings short of his pro high of 1651/3 in 2008; Tillman has logged 1461/3 innings this year between the Orioles and the Tides, which is about 15 innings shy of his top, 1612/3 in 2009.

"I would keep in mind where Jake and Bergy and Matusz are with their innings," Showalter said about the potential duration of the six-man rotation. "That would affect how we go some. I think we feel good with Guthrie and Millwood, and obviously we would monitor Tillman's innings too. [But] I don't want them pitching thinking: 'This is my last start. This is my next-to-last start. I am going to be finished.'"

Showalter said the club has developed several scenarios but has to see how things play out.

"We have made it out for the month, we have made it out for the week, we have made it out for two days and we have already adjusted it some as we go," he said.

Showalter also would like to get Rick VandenHurk, who will be out of options next spring, into the rotation before season's end. That, Showalter said, becomes more possible when David Hernandez returns to the bullpen. Hernandez (ankle) will pitch one inning today and Monday at Double-A Bowie before eventually returning to the big league bullpen.

It's also possible the Orioles could recall another reliever or two to the team this month besides Hernandez, but that, too, is undecided.

"That can change. We have had a couple [games] where we used a lot of guys," Showalter said. "I don't see it immediately, but it could change."

Jones out again

Center fielder Adam Jones was out of the starting lineup Friday because of a left shoulder injury that has forced him to miss seven of the club's last nine games.

Jones's shoulder was injected with cortisone on Thursday, and he is still being considered "day-to-day," Showalter said.

Originally hurt Aug. 24, when he was hit in the back by White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd (Mount St. Joseph), Jones missed five games before playing Tuesday. He left Wednesday's game after aggravating the injury on a swing. The pain intensified and moved more toward his shoulder, he said.

"It's a little sore, but I am feeling better," Jones said Friday. "I should play in the series, probably [today]."

Corey Patterson, who was unavailable Thursday with a sore neck, started in center field Friday. Because Patterson is able to play, it's less likely that the Orioles will call up a minor league outfielder, something that was a growing possibility Thursday.

"There's nothing imminent there," Showalter said.

One possibility, Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Matt Angle, is injured with a right pinkie strain.

Showalter on Bell's lapses

In Thursday's third inning, Orioles rookie third baseman Josh Bell fielded a grounder by Boston's Marco Scutaro and stepped on third for the inning's final out. Bell then continued to throw to first, surprising Ty Wigginton, who attempted to field the throw and, subsequently, missed the bouncing, unnecessary throw.

It was the third time Bell has lost track of outs in the past month, and the manager made it a point to talk to the rookie about the continual mistake.

"It's more of a reaction thing, that he stepped on the bag," Showalter said. "But the game should never catch you by surprise, and that's a concentration thing. You don't expect or tolerate [that] from anybody."

Showalter said the Orioles in the dugout were joking with Wigginton when he came into the dugout about the veteran's chance at the fourth out.

"[Wigginton] had a great answer: 'I couldn't tell if he touched the bag and plus I was heading towards the dugout anyway. I just happened to stop there and the next thing I know he was throwing,'" said Showalter, relaying the comments.

"With that being said, it ain't funny," Showalter added. "[Bell] was embarrassed about it. Not good."

Around the horn

Millwood escaped a first-inning jam Friday without yielding a run, the second straight time he has done that. He had allowed first-inning runs in 13 of his previous 16 starts. … Bergesen will sign autographs from noon to 1 p.m. today at the Elkridge Wendy's on Washington Boulevard. … Infielder Scott Moore (partially collapsed lung) has returned to the Triple-A Norfolk roster. … Double-A Bowie infielder Joel Guzman hit his 33rd home run of the season Thursday, tying the Baysox's single-season record, which was set by Walter Young in 2004. … Norfolk first baseman Michael Aubrey had two homers Thursday to reach 21 on the season. He is the first Tides player to hit at least 20 homers since New York Mets farmhands Victor Diaz (24) and Craig Brazell (23) did it in 2004.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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