WASHINGTON -- The MRI performed on Jeremy Guthrie's upper back on Friday is clean, and the Orioles remain cautiously optimistic that their ace can avoid a trip to the disabled list.
"This was about as good [news] as one could have hoped," Andy MacPhail, president of baseball operations, said of Guthrie, who was ruled to have a minor muscle strain. "He's still in line potentially -- no sure thing -- to make his next start [on Tuesday]. So we will just see how it responds in the next two days."
For now Guthrie is day-to-day, and he told manager Buck Showalter that the area was more sore than tender on Friday morning, which is a good sign.
The right-hander was lifted from Thursday's game in Toronto after five innings with back discomfort, an alarming development given how much he prides himself on his conditioning and ability to go deep into the games.
Asked if there's a possibility that the team will push back Guthrie's start to give him another day or two -- while still keeping him off the DL -- Showalter didn't rule it out.
"With the off-days, we could," Showalter said, referring to Thursday's day of rest following the team's nine-game road trip. "We're obviously going to need a starter on Tuesday. Immediately, somebody that is here who is capable of doing it is [Jason] Berken. But that means that you have to stay away from him [in relief]. I think it's kind of a work in progress to see what the needs are as far as Berken is concerned. Andy's got it wired about some things that we could do as early as [Saturday] if we have to. But we have to get ... a feel for where Jeremy is."
If the Orioles do turn to Triple-A Norfolk for another arm, starter Brad Bergesen -- who made the team as a long reliever/extra starter out of camp -- is a top candidate, as is right-hander Mitch Atkins. The two are scheduled to throw for the Tides on Sunday and Monday, respectively, and could join the Orioles' bullpen even if Guthrie is able to make his next start.
That would be ideal for an Orioles rotation that has struggled to consistently go deep in games. Guthrie is coming off consecutive seasons of 200-plus innings and has been a mainstay atop a youth-infused rotation. He is 2-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 15 starts, throwing a team-leading 91 innings.