07/23/10 12:11 AM ET
Wieters set to return when eligible Sunday
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Wieters (right hamstring strain) was out running the bases -- at what he estimated to be about 80-90 percent -- prior to Thursday's game, and barring any unforeseen setbacks, he will return to the O's lineup for Sunday's finale.
"[Catching] definitely is going to wear the legs a little bit," Wieters said. "But I don't think it will be much of a factor as getting stretched out, the tired factor seeing as I haven't been doing it. So hopefully I've been able to get enough conditioning in the last 15 days to keep it going."
The corresponding roster move for Wieters will cost either Craig Tatum or Jake Fox their spot, and could be a decision based on who has options (Tatum) versus who could potentially be lost on waivers (Fox).
Interim manager Juan Samuel said he didn't think the team could afford to carry three catchers with the current roster being what it is, and there's always a possibility the Orioles could make a trade or a player could land on the DL in the next few days. While Tatum has excelled as Wieters' primary backup, the Orioles would almost certainly lose Fox by exposing him to the waiver wire, given that he can play multiple positions and has been effective, hitting three homers and five RBIs in his first 14 games with Baltimore.
Gonzalez appears for first time since April
BALTIMORE -- Michael Gonzalez made his first appearance Thursday night against the Twins since suffering a blown save in April 9's home opener against Toronto.
Gonzalez, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list prior to Wednesday's game, came on in relief of starter Kevin Millwood with one out in the seventh inning and gave up a single to Denard Span before getting Orlando Hudson to fly out for the second out. He intentionally walked the dangerous Joe Mauer and retired Jason Kubel to end a wild inning that saw Orioles first baseman Ty Wigginton, pitching coach Rick Kranitz and interim manager Juan Samuel get ejected.
Gonzalez showcased a fastball that topped out at 93 mph and a motion that appeared to be more fluid than his traditional herky-jerky approach. He threw seven of his 16 pitches for strikes, lowering his ERA to 13.50 in the process, and exited with the score still 5-0 in Minnesota's favor.
"He threw a couple breaking balls up, but it was also good to see him not missing as many times as he did [before]," Samuel said. "Good to see him come in in a [non-pressure] situation like that and get his feet wet."
O's to limit workload of Berken, Hernandez
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles will try to limit the workload for first-time relievers Jason Berken and David Hernandez in the second half of the season. Berken entered Thursday's series opener against the Twins with an American League-leading 54 innings pitched over 35 appearances, while Hernandez, who made eight starts before moving to the 'pen, has thrown 22 1/3 innings in 20 relief outings.
Given that Hernandez and Berken are both former starters, pitching coach Rick Kranitz said the concern is more the number of outings than total innings pitched, and the O's will try to avoid the number of times they get up and get loose without getting in the game.
"We have to be careful in that way," Kranitz said. "We have to be careful pitching them a whole lot, like we did with Berken the first half."
Berken has thrown 3 1/3 innings already on the homestand, which started Monday, while Hernandez has gone 4 1/3 and appeared in all three games of the Rays series. But the two righties are hardly the only arms the O's are using. Long-man Mark Hendrickson and Matt Albers also rank in the top six in the AL in innings pitched, and both Kranitz and interim Juan Samuel are well aware of the heat they're putting on the 'pen.
"Obviously the starters need to do their part," Kranitz said of an Orioles rotation that has lasted just 15 innings in the past four games. "If the starters don't do their part we have to do what we have to do, and usually the bullpen suffers and we have to use more guys."
Added Samuel: "Guys have been overused and we do not have an off-day here for a while. So you have to be careful with the bullpen."
Markakis hosts 5k run for charity in August
BALTIMORE -- Join Nick and Christina Markakis for the The Right Side Foundation's Second Annual 5K Run and 1-Mile Fun Walk in Baltimore's Patterson Park on Sunday, Aug. 8.
The race begins at 6 p.m. ET, following the Orioles' afternoon home game versus the Chicago White Sox and all proceeds from the race benefit distressed children throughout Maryland.
"Not only is it going for a good cause, but it's fun," Nick Markakis said. "We got a great group of people out there, we got all different ages, kids all the way to grown-ups and adults. It's just a fun day. It's a fun event and there's a lot of things to do [at Patterson Park] too."
Interested participants can sign-up at RightSideFoundation.org or by calling 410-308-1870.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.