It was a busy afternoon for the Orioles.
Here are the highlights – and some thoughts mixed in.
Bleier likely headed toward surgery for his left lat
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said reliever Richard Bleier is considering his options involving a significant left lat strain, which would include potentially having surgery.
Bleier was injured after throwing a pitch in Wednesday’s game. He grabbed under his arm and immediately left the field. The chances of him pitching again in 2018 look bleak.
“Probably not. That’s one I really hope I’m wrong on, but from what everybody’s indicating,” Showalter said. “The worst case is that it’s a Grade 3 and he has surgery and returns sometime next season. So, it’s tough on Richard.”
It’s also tough on the Orioles. Bleier led the team in appearances (31) and posted a 1.93 ERA this year and a 1.99 in 57 games last season.
He graduated from a lefty specialist role last year and Showalter has trusted the 31-year-old to get left-handers and right-handers out in 2018.
“It’s very valuable to have a left-handed pitcher who can pitch to both sides,” Showalter said. “I’m not saying they are better, it’s an equal split, but at least they have a chance to defend themselves with some stuff.”
Rookie Tanner Scott will replace Bleier on the 25-man roster and Showalter thinks the hard-throwing lefty has “got a chance” to also retire right-handers with an improving slider. So far this year, right-handers have hit .310 versus Scott (in 42 at-bats).
It will be a good experience for the 23-year-old Scott to have a bigger role, but it’s tough that it comes at the expense of Bleier, who spent nine seasons in the minors.
“It breaks my heart because he’s done so much,” Showalter said.
Davis sitting for foreseeable future
Although no timetable is set, Showalter said beleaguered first baseman Chris Davis will not be starting while he concentrates on working with coaches in an attempt to get back to the form that made him an All Star.
Currently, Davis is on an unprecedented skid in which he his hitting .150 with a .454 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 57 games. He has missed the last three – and won’t start again until Showalter said he is told that Davis is ready to go.
“Chris is continuing with some things that he’s working on,” Showalter said. “When they come to me and say they think he’s ready to get back in the lineup, we’ll put him back in there. But it’s nothing imminent.”
Showalter wouldn’t specify who “we” is or who Davis would be working with specifically, but the assumption is it’ll be a combination of hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, assistant hitting coach Howie Clark and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson.
“I’m not going to get into all that. When … we feel like Chris is ready — when they think that he’s ready to play — he’ll play,” Showalter said. “We’ll sit down and talk about it. He’s working on some things. He’ll let me know when it’s time.”
With a five-man bench, Showalter can afford to have one player not available on a short-term basis, though Davis could be used off the bench if necessary, Showalter said. The manager said he doesn’t expect the process with Davis to drag on.
“I don’t think it will be that long. I hope it’s tomorrow. I hope it’s the day after tomorrow,” he said. “It’s not today, and there’s no closed end on it. I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later. I’d love to get back the Chris Davis we all know he’s capable of. It hasn’t been there this year.”
The other Joseph gets the call
With catcher Caleb Joseph still in exile at Triple-A Norfolk after a demotion in mid-May, Joseph’s younger brother, Corban, is representing the family in the majors after he was promoted Friday from Double-A Bowie.
The 29-year-old infielder hasn’t played in the big leagues since a doubleheader in 2013 with the New York Yankees – his lone two games in the majors – and has spent the past five-plus seasons trying to get back.
“The grind is what makes this game so special. You can have success in the game and you might not be where you want to be, but you’ve just got to keep on working hard and trying to do your best,” Joseph said. “I really didn’t think about it much, I was more focused on the team in Bowie and trying to win ballgames.”
A left-handed hitter, Joseph hit .336 in 59 games for the Baysox to get the big league call.
And he immediately was placed into the Orioles’ starting lineup at leadoff and at first base – basically taking the spot, at least for a day, of Davis.
“I think you’ll see a guy put a professional at-bat together. I’m pulling for him, we’re all pulling for him,” Showalter said. “Good story. But he’s not here for some feel-good story. He’s here because we think he can help us.”