The Orioles haven't made a definitive determination on whether two of their young pitchers will make their next starts, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Jake Arrieta is probably "50-50" while Brian Matusz said he should be ready after testing his bruised triceps Wednesday.
Showalter said he would like Arrieta, who has never faced the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, to pitch in that hostile environment this season, so it's not a new experience in 2011.
However, Arrieta, 24, has already thrown a career-high 173 1/3 innings between the Orioles and Triple-A Norfolk this season, which is significantly more than his previous high of 150 2/3 at Double-A Bowie and Norfolk in 2009.
"He has not pitched at Fenway Park and that would be a benefit, and he's still below what we consider the caution area [of about 30 innings over a previous high]," Showalter said. "So I'd say it's 50-50 right now. We've got some things that we're looking at. But if there's any doubt where he is physically, we'll probably lean toward not pitching him."
Arrieta would be scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the Red Sox, a day after Matusz's regular turn in the rotation. But that could be altered if Matusz can't go Monday in Boston.
"We'll wait to see how [Arrieta's] work day goes Friday, Saturday-ish. It's also a little bit of where Matusz fits back in," Showalter said. "We'll try to get a feel for where Brian would go back in. It could affect Jake a little bit."
Matusz, who pitched just one inning Monday after being hit in the left triceps with a liner off the bat of the Toronto Blue Jays' Yunel Escobar, said he felt no stiffness in his left arm while playing long toss with Jeremy Guthrie on Wednesday afternoon. He'll throw a bullpen session Friday and, if that goes well, Matusz said he would expect to make a start next week.
"It felt good, the inflammation is down," Matusz said. "I'll stay on my normal routine as of now and I'll throw a bullpen on Friday and I should be fine."
When asked if he thinks he'll pitch Monday or later on in the week, Matusz said, "That's up to Buck to decide when I am pitching, but I am available, depending on how the bullpen goes Friday. But I am not expecting any problems at all because, in playing catch today, I didn't feel it one bit. … If I felt it even one little bit, one percent of it being tight, then I would take some more time off. But that's not the case. "
Matusz, 23, is currently at 157 2/3 innings pitched, matching the number he threw in his pro debut last year at High-A Frederick, Bowie and with the Orioles.
When his young pitchers do get shut down — and the manager said Arrieta definitely won't pitch through the end of September — Showalter said he wants them to remain involved in the major-league learning experience.
"I personally would one night put them in the stands behind home plate, let them watch the game from that angle, one night put them in the bullpen, let them watch the game from that angle. It won't be a vacation if we do it. It would be a lot less work to be pitching," Showalter said. "If they can't grasp that, then maybe they should start their offseason, because it's not going to be a free and easy playtime."
Lugo to be further examined Friday
Orioles infielder Julio Lugo will see an ear-nose-and-throat specialist on Friday in hopes of finding out exactly what is causing the headaches that have kept him off the field this week. He won't play again until he gets further medical clearance.
On Tuesday, he had an MRI and doctors concluded that the recurring headaches were related to sinusitis and not a result of being hit in the head by a pickoff throw Aug. 29 in Anaheim, Calif.
But Lugo said after feeling better Tuesday, he felt terrible again Wednesday, prompting the scheduling of more tests. Until Lugo is cleared medically, Showalter said he won't play in any capacity.
Lugo, 35, said his biggest concern right now is figuring out what's wrong.
"The thing that kills me the most is that we don't know what's going on," said Lugo, a pending free agent who has hit .251 in 90 games for the Orioles. "Because when we know what's going on, then we can do treatment or do something for it. But you don't know. So you are not able to do anything."
Bell continues to scuffle at plate
After striking out three times Tuesday night, rookie Josh Bell's batting average has dropped to .215 and he's now fanned 50 times while walking twice in 146 plate appearances.
"I know I can hit, it's just a matter of when I get my pitches, not missing them. And right now I've been so anxious to hit I've been chasing pitches outside the zone," said Bell, who has hit .287 in parts of six minor league seasons. "I just haven't been the kind of hitter that I normally am."
Bell was considered the club's third baseman of the future and was given the starting job when the Orioles traded Miguel Tejada to the San Diego Padres in late July. He's worked repeatedly with hitting coach Terry Crowley and says both he and Crowley feel he has improved at the plate.
"[Crowley] was saying the numbers may not show it but he knows I am a better hitter. I know it myself," Bell said. "Just going through the hard times I'm going through right now, I know I am a better hitter than I was [last year]. Now, it s just a matter of putting it all together and doing it consistently."
Bell was out of the lineup Wednesday, with Luke Scott at first and Ty Wigginton at third base. Showalter said that he needs to evaluate more players in the next few weeks — such as Brandon Snyder at first and, perhaps, Robert Andino at third — and Bell may not play as much.
"He has gotten a pretty good opportunity and I think he is going to leave here realizing what the level is about. 'Can I do it? Yeah. But what do I got to do get there?' That's what he's got to keep in mind," Showalter said. "I'll remember the good, too … but I also want to see some other people that haven't had the opportunity that Josh has had."
Around the horn
Second baseman Brian Roberts started Wednesday's game after missing Tuesday due to a bruised right knee, which he suffered when he was hit by a pitch in the eighth inning Monday. He said it originally felt like a "huge charlie horse," but the pain subsided enough after one day's rest to get back in the lineup. He singled in his first at-bat and doubled in his second Wednesday. ... Nick Markakis singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. … Scott started at first base Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 19. … With his solo homer in the first against Brad Bergesen, former Oriole Jose Bautista tied the Toronto Blue Jays' record of 47 home runs in a season, set by George Bell in 1987.
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