Guthrie was scheduled to pitch in Wednesday's series finale against the Red Sox, and he had arranged with Baltimore's training staff to throw on the side Tuesday and make a final decision. But manager Dave Trembley interceded, giving Guthrie a full rotation turn off to rest his beleaguered arm and get a better chance to finish the season strong.
"He wanted to come out today and throw -- he usually throws five minutes off the mound the day before he pitches and he wanted to do that, and I told him that he wasn't," said Trembley of his staff ace's vulnerable condition. "He's not hurt. His shoulder's tired. His arm's tired, so I'm going to skip him. We'll go from there with that."
Guthrie, who ranks among the league leaders in several pitching statistics, said he agreed with Trembley's decision. The right-hander has already reached a career-high in innings pitched and described what he's feeling in his arm.
"It's not a soreness as much as a fatigue," Guthrie said. "It's a very palpable fatigue, I guess you could say. It feels tired when I throw, from the first throw on. ... I've talked to the trainers [and] we've worked on it for the last week or more. I've always maintained with them that it's not something I'm worried about an injury. Otherwise, I'd stop throwing. ... It's a fatigue that hasn't gone away from doing treatment, so let's take two, three or four days off and see how that works."
Guthrie first showed the strain three starts ago, when he gutted out seven strong innings against the Red Sox. The former first-round Draft pick then allowed 12 earned runs in his next two outings, lasting just three-plus innings in his most recent start. That outing -- the shortest of his career -- proved to be a tipping point for both Trembley and Guthrie.
"The ball just isn't coming out of his hand like it should," said Trembley. "I think he would readily admit his arm feels like you do in Spring Training, kind of like a dead arm. He really doesn't have a lot of zip on a lot of pitches. This guy is much too valuable and he's been so good for us this year, I'm not going to take a chance getting hurt. It's not worth it."
"I've never been in this situation, having thrown as much as I have," added Guthrie. "It's fatigue and dead arm to the point where I can't execute pitches nearly where I needed to to compete and give my team a chance to win. ... I think Dave looked at that, realized that and said, 'Let's do something that's best for you and best for the team.' "
The important part, as long as the long-term picture is concerned, is that the Orioles don't believe Guthrie will need to undergo an MRI or an X-ray. They're confident that there's nothing wrong with his shoulder, and they believe he should be able to take the ball again during the first or second game of next week's Cleveland series.
"Today was the day I was going to throw and make a decision about whether I felt comfortable starting tomorrow," Guthrie said. "The fact that today was the day that I was going to make that decision tells you that I'm comfortable, and, obviously, I think I can make it seven or eight days from now very comfortably. We just felt like the benefit wasn't nearly as high as the risk."
That still leaves Wednesday's game, though, and Trembley said he's not sure whom he'll tab to make that start. Long reliever Lance Cormier appears to be the most likely candidate, but much hinges on what happens on Tuesday night. Trembley said he doesn't necessarily need to choose someone who's started before, adding to the air of mystery.
"It could be a Spring Training-like game tomorrow, unfortunately," he said. "But we'll get through tonight and see what we've got tomorrow. I'll probably tell the guy after the game. ... I'll try to get 45 or 50 pitches out of whoever it is."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.