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Uehara injury may shake up O's rotation

Uehara injury may shake up O's rotation

WASHINGTON -- The Orioles' starting rotation remained muddled on Sunday, one day after veteran Koji Uehara experienced a sore left hamstring and two days after Adam Eaton was released.

The Orioles aren't sure who will take the ball in two of their next four games, a rare feat with the league's regimented schedule.

Manager Dave Trembley said that the Orioles will sort through several options to take Eaton's vacated slot, and he also said that Baltimore would monitor Uehara very closely to determine his prognosis. In the best-case scenario, Uehara wouldn't miss a start or require time on the disabled list.

"I don't have a starter today for Tuesday," said Trembley of Eaton's replacement. "In order for [Uehara] to take his normal spot in the rotation on Thursday, he would have to throw his sideline on Tuesday. That's his normal day. If Tuesday he cannot throw his sideline or doesn't feel 100 percent, obviously he won't pitch on Thursday."

The Orioles have several candidates to take Eaton's slot, but they've consistently said they want to afford their top pitching prospects more time to develop. With that in mind, Baltimore will likely choose between Jason Berken and Chris Waters at Triple-A Norfolk and southpaw Troy Patton from Double-A Bowie.

Berken has been unhittable at Norfolk, notching a 2-0 record and a 1.05 ERA in five starts. Waters hasn't pitched as well, but he does have the twin benefits of Major League experience and a current slot on the 40-man roster. Patton, meanwhile, is 4-1 with a 1.14 ERA in his return from corrective surgery on his pitching shoulder.

Both Patton and Waters pitched last on the Tuesday, while Berken's last start on the Thursday puts him in line for Eaton's pitching slot. The Orioles may tab David Hernandez if Uehara has to miss a start, but the right-hander would have to pitch on short rest to start Tuesday. Hernandez struck out 14 in his last outing for Norfolk.

As of now, the Orioles are hedging their bets and hoping that Uehara will be healthy enough to pitch. If he isn't, Baltimore could avoid a roster move by allowing Mark Hendrickson to start on Thursday. Trembley will continue to check on Uehara and try to ease his transition to Baltimore's humid summer climate.

"i thought he felt the effects of the heat last night," said Trembley. "I don't think there's any question about that. If you saw him and you looked at him, it was a big factor. I think the other thing is that his hamstring is sore. But the first thing, as far as the heat and not being hydrated, I think we can do something to help him with that."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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