(Updated: 8:20 p.m.)
BALTIMORE — As if allowing 24 runs over the last two nights wasn’t bad enough, the Orioles pitching staff appears to be suffering another blow with the revelation that starter Jason Hammel will be scratched on Thursday.
Dealing with right knee soreness in recent weeks, Hammel underwent an MRI that revealed no structure damage. Manager Buck Showalter labeled the Orioles’ top starter through the first month of the season as a “realistic” possibility to be pushed back, but he did not consider it to be a serious issue that could land the right-hander on the 15-day disabled list.
With Norfolk’s Dana Eveland the likely starter on Friday in place of Tommy Hunter, the Orioles may need to deep into their Triple-A team again for the series finale against the Rangers. Brad Bergesen is scheduled to make Thursday’s start for the Tides.
Another possibility for Thursday’s start could be Hunter, who would be eligible to return to the Orioles should the team place a player on the disabled list. Outfielder Endy Chavez has been dealing with an intercostal strain and was not in Wednesday’s lineup.
(Update: The Orioles announced Hunter will be recalled to start the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader. This presumably means Chavez will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.)
With Chavez limited, the Orioles have decided to purchase the contract of utility player Steve Tolleson and option left-handed reliever Zach Phillips to Triple-A Norfolk. Tolleson is able to play the infield and each corner outfield spot, making him a viable option if Chavez is to be sidelined for a longer period of time.The 28-year-old was hitting .265 in 83 at-bats for Norfolk.
Phillips was with the Orioles for only Tuesday’s game, allowing Josh Hamilton’s third home run of the evening in his 2/3 inning of work.
To clear room for Tolleson on the 40-man roster, the Orioles have shifted reserve catcher Taylor Teagarden to the 60-day disabled list. Still dealing with a back injury, Teagarden has responded well to a third epidural injection, but there is still no timetable for a return.
With Hunter currently in the minors, Hammel likely to miss a start, and Brian Matusz struggling, Showalter was asked about the possibility of Zach Britton’s rehab program being accelerated. The young left-hander remains on schedule, but the Orioles have no interest in putting short-term needs ahead of his overall well-being for the future.
“He’ll stay right on his program,” Showalter said. “We’re going to get that right.”
Britton is expected to pitch in an extended spring training game on Thursday. He’s scheduled to throw 45 pitches.
Here are tonight’s lineups…
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Adrian Beltre
1B Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
C Yorvit Torrealba
3B Brandon Synder
CF Craig Gentry
SP Colby Lewis (3-1, 2.97 ERA)
LF Ryan Flaherty
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Chris Davis
1B Mark Reynolds
2B Robert Andino
SP Wei-Yin Chen (2-0, 2.76 ERA)
Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Buck Showalter and Chris Davis prior to the third of a four-game set against the Texas Rangers.