MIAMI -- The Orioles still don't know what to do with Koji Uehara, but they'll get a better indication on Friday. Baltimore will send Uehara, who complained of elbow fatigue in his last start, to team orthopedist John Wilckens in the hope of finding out what ails the rookie and deciding on a prudent course of action.
Uehara, who is 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA this season, pulled himself after six innings in his last outing. The right-hander has also missed time with a strained left hamstring this season, and manager Dave Trembley has struggled to find a way to keep pitching Uehara on normal rest without jeopardizing his season.
It's been a season of adjustments for Uehara, a 10-year veteran of Japan's Central League. He went from pitching once every week in Japan to pitching once every five days in Baltimore, and Trembley said that though he's attempted to ease Uehara's transition, it hasn't always been possible within the strict confines of a five-man rotation.
"That's why we've tried to do the very best that we can as far as stretching his days in between starts out," said Trembley. "I've tried to do the best I can with limiting not only his pitches but, more important, how many times he sits down and goes out. That's why five, six, seven [innings], it doesn't really matter what the pitches are."
Uehara's next rotation turn is scheduled for Sunday, and if he gets a clean bill of health from Wilckens, he'll be able to throw his normal side session on Friday. The Orioles pulled David Hernandez early from a start at Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday and would likely slot him in as Uehara's replacement if necessary.
Trembley was asked again on Thursday whether he's considered using Uehara as a reliever, a role in which he thrived over the past few seasons. And true to form, Trembley said that the Orioles would have to consider everything.
"I haven't talked to anybody about it, but I've thought about it," he said of converting Uehara to relief work. "I think right now, the first thing we have to get through is [getting] him checked out by Dr. Wilckens and see where we're at. After we see where we're at, then we can kind of map something out until he All-Star break."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.