Given Monday's off-day, they could have Garcia throw on Thursday, which would leave Friday open. Gonzalez, who will try to throw Tuesday for the first time since exiting Friday's game with that blister, is still optimistic he won't need to miss a start, although it seems unlikely he will go on Thursday's scheduled turn. The O's could err on the side of the caution with Gonzalez, given they don't want the blister to be a lingering issue, and it should become a lot clearer after he throws a side session.
Another option, although one manager Buck Showalter has shied away from, would be asking a reliever to make a spot start. But given the bullpen's excellent performance, and the large amount of innings they've already had to pick up, adding a starter from Triple-A would be far more likely if that situation arises.
It seems neither Alexi Casilla or Ryan Flaherty are going to be great offensive options. Why Flaherty is favored so much over Casilla?
-- Rich, Rochester, N.Y.
A couple reasons, really. Flaherty is younger, and the Orioles have to figure out what they have in him and how he fits in with the organization's future. Casilla, a speed threat, is a player you'd like to have on the bench, because if the game is close, he could be a difference-maker as a pinch-runner. He'll still get his at-bats, but right now, expect Flaherty to get the bulk of the playing time at second base. Brian Roberts, who has been progressing in baseball activities, has no timeline for a return from a hamstring strain.
Is Pedro Strop the odd-man out in the bullpen?
-- Brian, Oregon
Not at all. The Orioles' bullpen, as I noted above, has been the team's strength and has had to pick up too many innings already this season. The O's need Strop, who was dominant the first half of last season, to get back on track and Showalter has continued to show faith in the right-hander by running him out there in big spots.
Strop's stuff is electric, and when he can control it, he has shown he's a serious weapon for the Orioles. He's also out of options and would certainly be lost on waivers in that scenario. Strop looked better in Anaheim, and he will get every opportunity to work through his struggles.
What is the latest on Wilson Betemit? I understand that he had surgery in early April, but when is he expected to return? And do the O's plan to use him as a designated hitter?
-- Gary L., Rochester, N.Y.
I don't have too much of an update on Betemit, who isn't expected to return until at least June. He did have minor surgery that didn't change his original timeframe, and until he can get going in baseball activities, it's impossible to predict when he could return. Currently, Betemit is doing rehab work in the pool at the team's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla. To answer the second part of your question, the plan was to use him as the DH against right-handed pitching. Given the Orioles' early struggles at DH, I don't see how that plan would change when Betemit returns.
I hear Manny Machado being compared to Bryce Harper a lot. Most of the "experts" say that if they were given a choice, Harper would be their pick. I strongly disagree. What are your thoughts?
-- Tish H.
Interesting question, and one that makes for an even better debate when you throw the Angels' Mike Trout in the discussion. Who will have a better career over the long haul? It's impossible to say. I did pose the question to Showalter over the weekend about the lack of national buzz surrounding Machado when compared with the other two -- particularly puzzling when you watch him every day -- and the best answer that came up was that Machado was promoted because of his defense, and he hit in the bottom of the order initially. Both Trout and Harper were billed as their respective team's saviors, for lack of a better term, and were in the heart of the lineup.
Machado is hitting second this year, and his offense is starting to turn heads. Whether you would take him over Harper or Trout, at this early stage, is more about personal preference. The Orioles are more than OK with the guy they have, as the 20-year-old Machado seems a lot more comfortable and mature already when compared with his rookie season.
Are the Orioles giving any consideration to bring up Kevin Gausman to help with the bullpen or in case on injury to the starting staff?
-- Chris, York, Pa.
First, there's no room for Gausman in the bullpen right now. And second, the Orioles actually have some options should they need a starter, as I answered in the first question. While they have high hopes for Gausman, gone are the days when the organization needed to rush guys up from the Minor Leagues, because they had no choice.
I don't doubt Gausman will be in Baltimore at some point this year. But it is his first full professional season, and the O's would like for him to establish some continued success at Double-A Bowie before he becomes a serious option.