Koji Uehara made it through just three innings Saturday night due to a case of soreness in his left hamstring, a reoccurrence of an injury suffered in Spring Training. Uehara, who had thrown three scoreless innings, will be re-evaluated Sunday and may miss his next outing.
The right-hander has a history of hamstring problems, and the ailment caused him to miss two weeks during Spring Training. Uehara wasn’t able to cover first base on an infield single in the third inning and was seen flexing the muscle against the final batter he faced.
The timing of the injury is inopportune for the Orioles, who released Adam Eaton on Friday night and have yet to tab someone as his replacement. If Uehara is indeed out for any period of time, the Orioles would be forced to find yet another starter from their farm system.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley was closely questioned about starter Adam Eaton’s job security on Thursday, and he chose to keep his comments short and sweet. Trembley was asked how long he could afford to stick with Eaton — who went into Thursday’s game with a 7.93 ERA — and he replied by saying he wasn’t really sure about his alternatives.
“We have every reason to believe that he’ll pitch well [tonite],” said Trembley. “What happens after that, I really can’t give an answer to because I don’t have one. If I did, I would be very willing to share that with you. I understand what I’m being asked, I know what you want me to say. But I’d rather just let him pitch tonight and see what happens. Everything will become clear. I’ll be prepared to answer the question if he doesn’t pitch well tonight.”
Eaton, who was signed in Spring Training to help buy time for the team’s flock of young arms, didn’t pitch well. He allowed doubles to the first three batters he faced and gave up six earned runs in the first two innings, prompting Trembley’s worst-case scenario.
If the Orioles eventually opt to jettison Eaton, they’ll likely promote either David Hernandez from Triple-A Norfolk or Troy Patton from Double-A Bowie. Chris Tillman could also be an option, but Baltimore wants him to spend most of the year at Norfolk.
Adam Eaton pitched his heart out Thursday night, answering the criticism from all quarters. Eaton, who had thrown 193 pitches just to get through eight innings in his first two starts, struck out nine batters for the first time since 2005 and earned his first win since last July.
And when it was all done, he walked off the field to a rousing ovation from the Camden Yards faithful. Eaton acknowledged the reaction by twice touching his cap, and after the game, manager Dave Trembley lauded the crowd for the appropriate response.
“I dare say the people who were here tonight, when Eaton walked off that mound, they gave it back,” he said. “You give an honest effort, you do well, you’ll get reciprocated for it. You don’t do well, you deserve to get whatever comes with it. Everybody knows that. Everybody’s a big boy here. But it’s nice to know that people appreciate it.”
The Orioles have been waiting for Adam Eaton to step up and justify a rotation slot ever since he was signed early in Spring Training following his release by the Phillies. And after an erratic exhibition season, he’s gone just four innings in each of his first two starts.
The veteran went less than four innings in his last two starts last season and has now gone seven straight starts without a quality start. That’s part of the reason the Phillies demoted him to the Minor Leagues and ultimately released him, but Eaton sees things differently.
“Obviously, last year ended in the big leagues on a down note. When I did get sent down, I was also leading the team in quality starts,” he said. “I don’t know exactly if it’s justified, that question, but at the same time, I didn’t throw well enough to stay there. This is a new year. That’s last year, and if you guys want to talk about last year, I also won a World Series. I was part of a team. But that’s not here nor there. I’m a Baltimore Oriole now.
“That’s where our concerns lie. I like what we have here. I need to obviously step up and throw the way I’m capable of throwing. We’ll see what we do next outing.”
The starter who shall not be named — Adam Eaton, for the uninitiated — will probably be cleared into an active roster spot by the end of the night. Eaton, who has been training with the Orioles despite not officially being on the roster, will be activated after Saturday night’s game and will start Sunday. And at that point, the Orioles will have to decide whether they’re more comfortable with an extra reliever or an extra position player.
The players most affected by that move will be shortstop Robert Andino and relievers Brian Bass and Matt Albers. Andino is the team’s only reserve capable of backing up Cesar Izturis, while Bass and Albers give the Orioles an eighth reliever and cover for their starters going short in games. Whatever the decision is, it probably won’t be permanent.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said Tuesday that Hayden Penn has been ruled out of consideration for the starting rotation, and he also said that the Orioles are now considering Brian Bass more as a reliever. So if you’re scoring at home, that leaves Alfredo Simon, Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson to likely flesh out the last three spots.
Trembley admitted that Simon is in, but he waffled a bit on Hendrickson Tuesday. He also said that barring an injury, Brad Bergesen is set to start the year at Triple-A Norfolk. Of course, the staff may change during the season, but for now, it appears to be set.
The Orioles had another distressing performance from a rotation candidate Saturday, when Adam Eaton allowed five earned runs in five innings of work. Baltimore’s starters have allowed at least five runs in each of their last three games — with starts by Jeremy Guthrie and Hayden Penn included — and they’ve racked up a 9.21 ERA in their last nine outings.
Baltimore has just two assured rotation slots — those belonging to Guthrie and free agent acquisition Koji Uehara — and is attempting to fill the other three from a pool of five candidates. The decision isn’t getting any easier, though, and will likely go down to the wire.