BALTIMORE—With just 15 games to play, the Orioles are scrambling for starting pitchers. For the third time in four games, an Orioles starter was injured. On Tuesday, Alex Cobb left after two innings with a blister or cut on the middle finger of his right hand. A day later, Andrew Cashner had a left knee injury, and two days after that, 22-year-old Luis Ortiz, making his first major league start, injured his left hamstring running to first base in the second inning.
Ortiz, who was traded to the Orioles from Milwaukee in the Jonathan Schoop deal, forced the Orioles to use their bullpen for 7 1/3 innings. In both Cobb’s and Cashner’s starts, the bullpen was needed for seven innings.
For help, the Orioles resorted to the last two healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster who weren’t with the team, recalling Donnie Hart and Evan Phillips from Triple-A Norfolk, which last played 11 days before.
The Orioles have 13 relievers and all may be needed just go get through the weekend. Yefry Ramirez starts Saturday, and manager Buck Showalter said that it’s likely David Hess will be the Sunday starter.
No progress was reported on Cobb Friday, but Cashner was going to attempt to throw Saturday. Showalter hopes he can pitch sometime next week.
Ortiz was charged with three runs, one earned in 1 2/3 innings in the Orioles’ 8-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Their record is now 42-105.
With a runner on third and two outs in the second, Chicago’s Yoan Moncada hit a high chopper to first base fielded by Chris Davis. Ortiz was late covering first, and Davis attempted to beat Moncada to the bag, but he couldn’t, and nearly collided with Ortiz.
After walking Yolmer Sanchez, Ortiz left the game and was replaced by Jimmy Yacabonis.
“Just going down to first base, I felt like I was grabbing,” Ortiz said. “My hammy just didn’t feel good at all, and it was just hurting after that.
Ortiz had hoped to improve on his first appearance with the Orioles a week ago when he allowed three runs on three hits and two walks while retiring just two batters in relief in a 14-2 loss to Tampa Bay.
“I knew he was going to be a little crisper,” Showalter said. “He was OK, you know? This was his first start in the big leagues, 22-year-old young man. I wish he could have stayed out there and continued to pitch. He’s got late life and good, sharp slider. He’s got a chance to be pretty good.”
Trey Mancini had two home runs, his 22nd and 23rd. He still trails Manny Machado, who hit 24, for the club lead. The Orioles had a four-run seventh that featured a two-run single by pinch-hitter Corban Joseph that drew them to within 7-6.
Mancini said it’s difficult to see another starter suffer an injury.
“It’s really unfortunate. I know he’s excited to make his first major league start. It really stinks that it got cut short like that,” Mancini said. “You’ve just got to keep going out and playing. It’s tough having three of our starters go down. It’s nice that the roster’s expanded but the rotation, I guess, is kind of in question. I’m not sure what happens. That’s not really in my jurisdiction. It’s tough.”
Scouting the Mesas
Major League Baseball has declared highly touted prospect Victor Victor Mesa and his brother Victor free agents. The brothers, who are 22 and 17, left Cuba in May and declared residency in the Dominican Republic.
Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette wrote in a text message that the Orioles will aggressively pursue international talent.
“[The] Orioles are actively scouting and signing international players from around the world in an attempt to build our prospect base so our major league team is competitive and interesting to our fans,” he said.
The Orioles, Miami Marlins and New York Yankees are considered the favorites to sign Mesa because they have the most international signing bonus slot money available.
Andreoli’s football roots
Orioles outfielder John Andreoli has outstanding athletic genes. His father, also John Andreoli, played professional football with the New Orleans and Boston Breakers of the United States Football League, and two cousins on his mother’s side, Daniel and Luke Bard, have played major league baseball.
The elder Andreoli, now a commercial insurance broker and high school football coach in Shrewsbury, Mass., is 6 feet 4 and 265 pounds. That’s three inches taller and 55 pounds heavier than his 28-year-old son. He had training camp stints with the Redskins and Patriots, but suffered a biceps injury that ended his NFL career before it really began.
Although the Orioles’ Andreoli eschewed football for baseball, it wasn’t totally his choice. He played quarterback at St. John’s High, the same school where his father coaches. Andreoli received some Division I scholarship offers for football, and others for baseball. He chose the University of Connecticut and even though Randy Edsall, then in his first iteration in Storrs, Conn., expressed interest in having Andreoli play football, too, that idea was shot down by UConn baseball coach Jim Penders.
Andreoli, who was claimed on waivers from Seattle on Aug. 18, is batting .224 in 18 games this season, loves football and is a huge Patriots fan, but he’s put aside his Red Sox allegiance.
“That’s the one Boston team I still pull for big time,” Andreoli said of the Patriots. “Once you get drafted and get to the business side of baseball, you’re playing for the team in front of your chest, all of that old stuff goes out the window.”
Once baseball ends, he watches football practice and helps his father coach.
“I just like the game, the kind of blue-collar, grinder mentality that most players have in that game. I try to bring that to baseball,” Andreoli said.