Luke Scott continued Baltimore’s late-season run of injured outfielders on Wednesday night, when he left the game with a strained muscle in his left foot. Scott, who had gone 1-for-3 with a single in the first seven innings, was replaced in the outfield by Ty Wigginton.
The Orioles have seen Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie all go out with season-ending injuries in the last few weeks. The roster crunch has gotten so bad that the team had to activate Lou Montanez from the 60-day disabled list before they wanted to do so, and September callup Jeff Fiorentino has seen more action than expected.
Wigginton spent the second half of 2008 as an outfielder but had yet to play there in ’09 before Wednesday night. The veteran reserve has played at all the infield positions this season, and manager Dave Trembley had said he’d like to avoid spotting him in the outfield.
Ty Wigginton embraced a pair of firsts on Thursday, when he played shortstop for the first time in his career and delivered Baltimore’s first pinch-hit of the season.
Wigginton hit for Robert Andino in the sixth inning and delivered a two-run double, breaking an 0-for-16 pinch-hit streak for the team. Wigginton took Andino’s spot on defense and made a charging play in which he threw out speedster Brett Gardner in the sixth.
Baltimore’s starting shortstop, Cesar Izturis, is still bothered by a strained left groin. That left Andino — and then Wigginton — as the team’s only choices to man the position.
Ty Wigginton went deep for the Orioles on
Wednesday, breaking up a four-game streak without any home
runs. Baltimore went 44 1/3 innings without a home run,
winding all the way back to the fourth inning of the team’s
series opener in Kansas City last Thursday.
The Orioles saw their game delayed briefly on Tuesday by the inavailability of left fielder Felix Pie, who had an illness and couldn’t come out for the top of the fourth inning. Pie was replaced by super-reserve Ty Wigginton, and Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said he wasn’t sure how it would affect the team going forward.
“It’s a stomach ailment,” said Trembley of Pie’s condition. “I really couldn’t tell you the extent or the determination of it other than the fact he felt ill and they took him across the street to get a CT scan. That’s all I know.”
The Orioles lifted designated hitter Luke
Scott midway through Sunday’s game against the Yankees due to
a left shoulder injury suffered on the basepaths. Baltimore
went to Ty Wigginton instead, and Scott’s condition is best
described as day-to-day.
When Ty Wigginton really lays into a fastball, it goes a long way. Baltimore’s reserve infielder has proven that in recent days, when he’s driven a colossal homer to deep left field and beyond against both the Dominican National Team and the New York Mets.
Wigginton, who had huge numbers at his home park in Houston last season, has adamantly contended that most of his homers to left field have been no-doubt shots. And the early returns have confirmed his comments in the strongest possible way.
“I see a guy that if he gets a fastball in his zone, he usually doesn’t miss it,” said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. “He’s got a short swing. I think I’ll have to find a way to get him in the lineup in different places. I think he can hit. I think he’ll drive in runs.”
Wigginton, who can play second base and both the infield and outfield corners, figures to play three or four times a week. Trembley was asked Monday — right after Wigginton’s blast against the Mets — if he can envision the reseve player getting 300-400 at-bats.
“I’m sure he does,” he said. “I’ve done it before with other guys in that slot. We’ll work at it.”
The Orioles have received kudos for increasing their depth at the big-league level in recent weeks, but one thing that has gone virtually unnoticed is the maturation of some of their younger infielders. Blake Davis and Justin Turner have both earned accolades for their improvement this spring and will stand as potential reinforcements if anyone gets injured.
“Every player that’s in camp here should have the mindset that they’re here to compete for one of the 25 jobs,” said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. “You have to send a message and you have to have people notice you. And they’re either going to notice you in a positive or a negative way. I would dare say, you guys that follow the club, the inventory is better.”
Baltimore signed Ty Wigginton and Ryan Freel to flesh out its bench, relegating Scott Moore to the challenge of trying to distinguish himself. And Moore has hit well, finding himself in a grouping with Turner, Davis and several other youngsters trying to separate themselves.
“There are some players here in camp,” Trembley said. “I’m not talking about stars. I’m not talking about impact type players, but there are better overall baseball players in camp. I don’t want to put the whammy on them, but look at the way the infielders have played.
“If Blake Davis didn’t have No. 82 on his back, you’d think he’s a big-leaguer. Honest to God. …And for me, he is a Major League player. I think these guys deserve a lot of credit.”