Notes: Burres likely to start Sunday
Left-handed long reliever could take Loewen's spot in rotation
BALTIMORE -- Suddenly, Brian Burres is indispensable.
The Orioles have used Burres as a long reliever and a mop-up man this season, but the southpaw will likely move into the rotation now that Adam Loewen has been placed on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left elbow. That's new territory for Burres, who was a late scratch from Baltimore's Opening Day roster due to another injury.
Burres traveled for Baltimore's barnstorming tour at the end of Spring Training and accompanied the team to Minneapolis for Opening Day, but he was scratched for another catcher when Ramon Hernandez couldn't play due to a strained left oblique. Now, there's little or nothing standing in his way to assume a larger role.
Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo indicated as much Friday, before he found out the extent of Loewen's injury.
"I would think Burres would be the prime candidate for us," he said in the hours before Friday's game. "Actually, he came in and pitched four innings for us the other day -- and pitched very well. We may need another starter after that. At that point, we'd consider [Jeremy] Guthrie."
Burres will likely start Sunday's game, and if he pitches well, he could remain in the rotation much longer. Loewen is out for at least two-to-three months, and fellow starter Jaret Wright has an open-ended stay on the disabled list. Top prospect Hayden Penn recently had surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow and is gone until August.
That leaves Burres, who has never started a big-league game, and Guthrie as the prime contingency plans. Burres started virtually half of the time during his Minor League career, racking up a 42-47 record and a 3.82 ERA. The Orioles purchased the contract of reliever Todd Williams from Triple-A Norfolk to balance out the new roles for Burres and/or Guthrie.
Line 'em up: Perlozzo went to another variation in his lineup shuffle Friday night, when he dropped third baseman Melvin Mora to the sixth spot for the first time all season. Mora previously batted in the No. 2 spot, but Perlozzo elected to push Nick Markakis and Miguel Tejada one spot higher in the lineup.
Ramon Hernandez batted cleanup for the second time this season, and Aubrey Huff returned to the five-hole. Perlozzo said that it wasn't a long-term arrangement and that he was just trying to find a mix that works.
"I tinker with this a little bit, but I hate to tinker too much," he said of Friday's lineup card. "Until we get guys going, we'll look at some numbers. And not always numbers, but we'll try to separate some people so we're not running three or four lefties in a row and getting caught later in games. We'll try to mix and match a little bit."
The switch bore some immediate fruit, as left fielder Jay Payton homered in his first at-bat. Payton, who has batted sixth and seventh most often this season, was batting eighth for just the second time all year.
"It's like I've said before: 'You can put them anywhere in the lineup -- they're still going to come up somewhere along the line,'" Perlozzo said. "They're going to be fine. We went with these guys early on, and they're our guys. I've got a ton of confidence that they'll come around."
On the skids: Perlozzo said he isn't worried about his team's current losing streak -- which includes losses in nine out of 10 games heading into Friday night -- and isn't concerned that his players will begin to feel sorry for themselves. It's still early, he said, and there's plenty of time to get on a streak and correct things.
"If this was the middle of the season or a little later than that, I'd think you might think that," Perlozzo said. "I think the guys are pretty positive, myself. I think they still believe in themselves. I don't like to accept the fact that it's OK, but at the same time, the division's a little bunched up there for us.
"We've got plenty of time to make a move. We'd just like to see it sooner rather than later."
Quotable: "It wouldn't be very good. That's for sure. We already lost one of our starters. If we lose another one like Adam, that would be a pretty good sizable blow, I'd say." -- Perlozzo, in the pregame hours on the potential repercussions to losing Loewen for an extended period of time
Coming up: The Orioles and Indians will meet again Saturday night at 7:05 ET, and Daniel Cabrera will be matched against Cleveland's Jeremy Sowers. Sowers took a no-decision in Baltimore's lone win on its last road trip.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.