CHICAGO -- Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg spent a good portion of Monday's pregame at a corner table watching video, at times consulting with pitching coach Rick Adair. Fresh off Sunday's nightmarish outing in a seven-run sixth inning -- five runs crossed the plate with two outs and Gregg on the mound -- manager Buck Showalter stood behind the veteran.
"I can't sit here and say nonchalantly that there's not something to it," Showalter said of Gregg -- who was originally signed to be the team's closer -- adjusting to being used in the earlier innings, "But Kevin's pitched in different roles in his career, I know Kevin and he just wants to contribute and do whatever, we've talked about this and I think you will see him get better as we go on."
Gregg was used less frequently as the closer toward the end of last season and it appeared clear this spring that Jim Johnson, if healthy, would be the Orioles' ninth-inning guy. Showalter hasn't made Gregg's role as clear, using him in the sixth inning Sunday in Toronto to mark the first time Gregg had pitched earlier than the seventh since 2007. He struggled mightily, allowing two of Brian Matusz's inherited runners to score and another three runs on three hits, two walks and a hit batsmen.
"He understands what's going on," Showalter said of Gregg, who was signed to a two-year deal in January 2011 and has pitched to a 12.27 ERA in his first three outings. "I talk to him every day in some form or fashion, so I understand what he's going through somewhat. But yesterday was a hiccup for us. Not to say that anybody else could have done anything differently but we are not and can't pitch the same guys three days in a row. We are going to have to shoulder the load around to keep everybody good and healthy and contributing."
Showalter also was asked if he felt the current bullpen's construction was limiting given that the Orioles have no true long man and only one lefty in Troy Patton, who was used for two innings Sunday.
"That's long -- long man in the American league is two innings," Showalter said. "If you constantly need a four or five innings guy, you are in for a long year. But the way our bullpen is constructed we can make adjustments if we need to do it. I hope we don't. So far we've been able to withstand that, a lot of it is because our [starting] pitching has been getting fairly deep."