Notes: Juggling act for Perlozzo
With Payton back, manager has logjam with Millar, Gibbons
BALTIMORE -- Life may be getting easier for the Orioles now that left fielder Jay Payton's off the disabled list, but Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo's job is just beginning to get tougher. With Payton back in the fold, Perlozzo has to be creative to find ways to get both Jay Gibbons and Kevin Millar as much playing time as they'd like.
Payton's start on Sunday meant a seat on the bench for Gibbons, and Perlozzo gave Millar a day off Monday. The manager said he expects to juggle both power bats and get them in the lineup as often as possible. Gibbons had been playing left field before Payton came back, but isn't likely to go back there on a regular basis.
"Obviously, one of them isn't going to be able to [play every day], but we knew that coming out of Spring Training, and Kevin Millar has been outstanding for us to this point," Perlozzo said. "He's due for a day off. And we're trying to get Jay back in there and get him going, see if we can get our left-handers going.
"And we'll try to mix and match as best we can. As long as we're winning, I think we're OK with that."
Payton is Baltimore's best defensive left fielder by a wide margin, which means that Millar and Gibbons will spend most of their time in the designated hitter slot. Both players can also play first base, but Aubrey Huff seems to have made himself at home in the infield. For now, Millar and Gibbons have to let their bats do their talking for them.
Millar has done his part by batting .273 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in his first 18 games, but Baltimore is still waiting for Gibbons to come around. The erstwhile outfielder is hitting .232 with no homers and five RBIs.
"I just think [Gibbons is] trying a little too hard. Maybe if we get the one home run out of the way, we'd be better off, but I hate to say that," Perlozzo said. "He's gotten a lot of base hits up the middle and the other way, and that's kind of what we'd like to see out of him. We know he's going to hit his home runs."
Battery power: Baltimore's last two injured players -- right-handed pitcher Jaret Wright and catcher Ramon Hernandez -- are expected to play Tuesday night for the Class A Frederick Keys. Wright is attempting to come back from a sore right shoulder, while Hernandez has been battling a strained left oblique all season.
"We'll try to get somewhere around 60 pitches or so, plus or minus, depending on how he feels," Perlozzo said of Wright, who is expected to start for the Orioles on April 29. "Ramon will get to catch him for about six innings -- or at least catch around six innings [period]. Then he'll DH the next day, and we'll see how he is from there."
Hernandez has a tricky injury in that it allowed him to do everything but swing a bat without pain. The veteran can field his position, run and throw without a problem, but he still isn't sure that he can hit without further injuring himself. He'll test how it feels over the next two days, and if he's fine, he'll likely rejoin the parent club Wednesday.
"It's going to be up to him," Perlozzo said. "He's been pretty good with telling us that he needs a little more time. And we're certainly going to do what he says because when we get him back, we want him back for good."
Gut check: The Orioles confirmed Monday that Jeremy Guthrie will make his first start of the season on Tuesday night. Guthrie was tabbed as Wright's replacement, but his first chance at a starting bid got rained out. This may be his last chance for now, especially if Wright is able to return at full strength Sunday.
"I'm going to try to go as far as they'll let me. I don't think they'll give me a pitch count or innings count," Guthrie said. "I think they'll have the same approach: let Jeremy pitch and let the situation play out, and however things are going, then they'll make their decision if they need to make a switch. That's probably best for [all] of us."
Perlozzo said he didn't expect to have a pitch count, but he said it was doubtful that Guthrie would last 100 pitches. The manager plans on taking a common sense approach and letting his starter go as far as he can comfortably.
"We certainly don't want to take a chance and stretch him too far beyond his limit," Perlozzo said. "Ideally, you'd like to see him get five [innings] at least, but if he goes along smoothly, maybe another one after that. He'll dictate to us how long he goes. If he's got his stuff and he's pitching the way he's capable of, he should be able to do that."
Quotable: "I try not to look." -- Perlozzo, on the spread of bad moustaches in his dugout
Coming up: The Orioles and A's will play the finale of their two-game set on Tuesday afternoon at 3:05 ET. Guthrie will be matched against Oakland rookie Dallas Braden, who will be making his Major League debut.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.