With fewer than 50 games remaining on the Orioles' regular-season schedule and with Baltimore enjoying three off-days in a 10-day span, it's a good time to delve into my email and answer some of your latest Inbox submissions.
What do you think the chances are the front office puts a claim in on Mark Reynolds now that he's been designated for assignment?
-- Mike C., Monrovia, Md.
The Orioles would have some interest in bringing back Reynolds, a clubhouse favorite, although on the immediate front they would have to wait to see what Cleveland does. The Indians, who designated Reynolds on Thursday morning, have 10 days to release, trade or place Reynolds on waivers, so that situation will be one to monitor over the coming days.
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Reynolds hit .221/.328/.458 in two seasons with the O's and while his bat is capable of carrying a team offensively, he's also strikeout-prone and had a prolonged slump the first half of last season. With Chris Davis entrenched at first base, Reynolds would be an option at designated hitter, although he has had trouble previously when not used in the field.
Always streaky, Reynolds followed a red-hot April with Cleveland by hitting .218 in May, .187 in June, and .098 in July. His playing time had diminished considerably and he's 3-for-9 in August.
The Orioles declined Reynolds' $11 million option this winter and later non-tendered him -- making him a free agent -- and never formally offered him a return deal. Cleveland signed him to a one-year, $6 million deal with incentives in December. The Orioles' DH spot has been an issue all year, hitting .210/.269/.389 with 16 homers and 46 RBIs, and the O's could certainly take a flier on Reynolds given the low-risk scenario.
When Jason Hammel returns from the disabled list, what do you see the Orioles doing with their abundance of starting pitching? Who's the odd man out?
-- Jay P., Spring Lake, N.J.
As Orioles manager Buck Showalter likes to say whenever reporters ask a similar question, these things always have a way of working out. Hammel, who suffered a setback while trying to throw on Tuesday in San Diego, doesn't look like he will be eligible the first day he could come off the DL -- which is August 13 -- so that buys the club some more time.
This is an injury Hammel has dealt with since Spring Training, so the emphasis is on getting the discomfort out of the area -- which is the right flexor mass tendon by his elbow/forearm -- and getting Hammel back to last year's form. In the meantime, the rotation could be in a considerably different situation by the time Hammel returns, whether it's another injury or underperformance. So, it's tough to say one guy is more apt to be removed from the rotation, particularly with September's expanded rosters around the corner.
Is Scott Feldman's spot in the rotation up for grabs? It appears that his stock has dipped a bit, and I'm sure the organization would love to insert Kevin Gausman into its September plans if he continues his progression.
-- Dan S., Parkland, Fla.
This kind of piggybacks off the previous question, but the short answer to your question is no. Feldman's stock hasn't necessarily taken a hit since the team traded for him last month and being skipped this time through is more a result of team need than keeping the right-hander from getting a start. Given that the Orioles are out on the West Coast and making a roster move to add pitching is tough to do, having Feldman in the bullpen makes sense. So does having Bud Norris, who doesn't have good career numbers in Arizona, slot up in San Francisco instead.
Feldman has experience pitching in relief, but part of the reason he was enticing to the Orioles is his ability to eat innings and go deep into games as a starter. He will start either Monday or Tuesday in Arizona and, assuming he has at least an average outing, will remain in the starting five. As for Gausman, he is absolutely in the club's plans for September and could be a bullpen option. Keep in mind the rookie didn't exactly have a lot of success as a starter, although that's to be expected as part of the learning curve. Given the O's rough stretch in the final month, having Feldman and Gausman -- as well as the rest of the rotation -- pitching well, would be a welcome problem to have.
Do the O's want Nate McLouth back next year?
-- Ryan, Nashville, Tenn.
I don't know why they wouldn't. McLouth has been arguably the team's most consistent contributor since the season started and his defense and baserunning skills add other elements to the Orioles' game. Given Nolan Reimold's season-ending surgery, it's hard to imagine where the O's would be had they not resigned McLouth to a one-year deal this winter, and the 31-year-old has really turned around his career in Baltimore after a few down seasons. There isn't a whole lot on the immediate horizon in terms of young outfield options in the Orioles system -- particularly with the club's trading of LJ Hoes in the Norris deal -- so making a move to keep McLouth in left field certainly makes sense.
Should we be concerned with the stamina of Miguel Gonzalez moving into the latter part of the season?
-- John V. New York, N.Y.
Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen are two guys who the Orioles have monitored closely and will continue to do so in the final two months. While Chen did get some rest because he missed an extended amount of time with a left oblique strain, Gonzalez has been a consistent force in the team's rotation, overcoming a rough two-start stretch with another quality outing on Wednesday.
I think there's always some concern when you're dealing with guys who don't have a lot of Major League experience and perform considerably better with extra rest, although Gonzalez's recent issues looked more like command than late-season fatigue. Beyond next week, off-days are sparse and it wouldn't surprise me if the Orioles used the fact that they have other starting pitching options -- particularly when Hammel comes back -- to try to give Gonzalez an extra day or two. But keep in mind he's historically pitched well against their American League East opponents, especially in tough places like Yankee Stadium, and the Orioles can't afford to not pitch him given how close the division and Wild Card race projects to be.
Will the Orioles get anything from Wilson Betemit or Tsuyoshi Wada this year?
-- Rob C, Baltimore, Md.
Betemit (right knee injury) recently started a rehab assignment, and Showalter seemed fairly hopeful that he would be able to at least be an option for September callus. His rehab process has been slow, but it was a major injury and having Betemit's bat, particularly against right-handed pitching, would certainly be a boost.
As for Wada, he's coming off back-to-back scoreless outings, and Showalter mentioned for the first time recently that the lefty could be a potential relief option. It would take some adjustments -- particularly with him taking a long time to get ready -- but it appears the organization has softened a little on having Wada, who hasn't thrown a pitch for the O's because of Tommy John surgery, being in the bullpen.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.