The Baltimore Orioles are dealing with a series of injuries to various players that have made it impossible to place their projected starting lineup on the field together at any single point so far this season.
The latest DL visitor is Matt Wieters, who switched places on the roster with the returning Chris Davis. And at the time Davis went on the list, Manny Machado had not yet returned to play. Along the way, J.J. Hardy also missed some games to nurse a hamstring malady.
If one counts Ryan Flaherty as the projected primary starting second baseman for 2014 (though it appears Jonathan Schoop is now that player), Sunday was the first time the entire infield was together at the same time, though again, of course without Wieters.
The Baltimore Orioles are not the only AL East team to have such difficulties, as injuries have been a storyline theme in the division so far for this 2014 season. But it is frustrating, even as the depth of the team has filled these holes well enough to place the Birds at the top of the tight AL East.
Might the Orioles have gapped the rest of the division if they were fully healthy as expected? Maybe, but injury is part of the modern game. And honestly, it is not injury that has created whatever pitching deficiencies have been repeatedly seen for this first quarter of the season.
We speculated just yesterday relative to the pending return of Davis that perhaps Wieters might go to the DL. It never really made complete sense that Matt could not throw without pain, while batting was no problem at all. Perhaps the pain was not felt with the swing, but seriously, DH-ing and rehabbing seem contrary to reason. Orioles fan can hope for Wieters to be a fast healer like his teammate Chris Davis.
Adding to the frustration is the wonderful offensive start that Wieters has put together for the early part of the season. He goes on the DL with a .308 average, five doubles, five homers, and 18 RBIs.
But there is no certainty that even if the four infielders can stay healthy for two weeks from now that Wieters will be back, or that the whole gang will be able to be together for the first time. In fact, the scenario is out there that this may be much worse – like, season-ending worse with surgery disallowing a return until spring training of 2015. (Ugh, that is the first time I’ve typed 2015 – didn’t feel good doing it.)
Showalter said, “We’ll take a two-week or three-week period to see if we can get it managed and then if he can catch the rest of the year. Or if he’s still having problems with it at the six-week mark, we will have to think about something else … That’s as frank as I can be about it. That’s where we are with it.”
Adding to the bad feeling and gravity of the situation is this further statement from Buck, “If you do the nine months if he had to have the surgery — we are hoping he never has to and there’s a chance it never has to happen — that’s around six weeks and he’s back for next year. You are talking about roughly July 1.”
For now, Wieters will stay with the team and seek to be a help with Steve Clevenger and Caleb Joseph. Discounting any move to bring in someone from the outside, it might be that Clevenger will play against right-handed starters and Joseph against lefties. Honestly, these guys are more than decent and I would expect better than anyone who could be found dispensable from another source.
Remember the criticism of Dan Duquette for stockpiling catchers in the offseason? In fact, this turn of events gives the Baltimore Orioles a chance to evaluate these prospects for the future. We call them “prospects” but in fact, both of these guys and Matt Wieters were born within a span of two months. They could have all been in the church nursery together.
Clevenger is currently 11-for-42 (.262) with six of those hits being doubles. Joseph is hitless in seven at-bats so far, but he has looked very adequate behind the plate.