As Monday night turns to Tuesday morning on the East Coast, Orioles manager Buck Showalter will take his seat on the team plane in Arlington, Texas. He’ll start poring over the scouting report for the next day’s series opener. Advance scouting director Ben Werthan will have stayed home to prepare it.
They’ll do all that on what was supposed to be a precious night off.
The Orioles will make up an April 17 rainout with a single road game against the Texas Rangers on Monday night, losing one of two scheduled days off in a four-day span. After the game, they’ll take a late flight back home to begin a two-game interleague series against the San Diego Padres, whom they haven’t played since August 2013.
It’s a rare occurrence. Monday will be the Orioles’ first single road game between home games since 1967, when they made a much shorter trip: to Washington, to face the Senators.
The brief stop in Texas begins a taxing week: three opponents, seven games and a doubleheader. The Orioles originally had three days off in an 11-day span (June 13-23), but they now face 13 games in 13 days (June 14-26).
“It’s going to be a grind, but the whole season’s a grind,” catcher Matt Wieters said Sunday. “That’s what we pride ourselves on. Complaining and moaning about it, it’s not going to do anybody any good, so we’re just going to enjoy it, and whatever comes, we just run with it.”
Showalter even considered nixing batting practice Tuesday and having players come to the ballpark at 5 p.m. to get extra rest. Because of the odd nature of this week’s schedule, the Orioles will keep 10 usual traveling members home from the Texas trip, including Werthan. Chris Tillman, who started Sunday’s game, will stay home, as will Tyler Wilson and Yovani Gallardo, who started Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
Reliever Brad Brach pitched for the second straight day Sunday, this time for two innings, so he also will not make the trip to Texas.
Dylan Bundy has not pitched since Wednesday and could serve as a bridge to the late innings Monday. But if the game requires extra innings, the Orioles will be short-handed without several key pitchers.
The players remaining behind in Baltimore will have workouts Monday, so assistant hitting coach Mark Quinn and special assignment pitching instructor Ramon Martinez will stay back to run them. With one trainer and one strength and conditioning coach also staying home, the team will have a light plane coming back.
“Saved a bunch of money on hotels,” Showalter quipped.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy couldn’t recall having any week like this one, and neither could Showalter. The Orioles’ 2012 postseason posed similar challenges, as they finished the regular season in Tampa Bay on Oct. 3, then flew to Arlington for an American League wild-card game Oct. 5, then started the AL Division Series at home Oct. 7. Even that week, though, they had days off in between games.
They also didn’t have three-plus months of the season left, as they do now, putting Showalter in a tricky spot this week. Third baseman Manny Machado is suspended until Friday for charging the mound and punching Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura on June 7, and the Orioles must play a man short because they can’t replace him on the 25-man roster.
That has forced them to keep infielders Ryan Flaherty and Paul Janish and stick to an 11-man pitching staff, which will be difficult. They still need a starter for Wednesday’s game after optioning Mike Wright to Triple-A Norfolk following his start Friday.
As for Monday’s game, the Orioles will send right-hander Kevin Gausman to the mound and hope he can pitch deep into the game. Gausman, who lasted just three innings Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox, traveled with the team after Sunday’s game instead of leaving earlier by himself. He can’t recall pitching on such a short trip, either.
“It’s going to be a little weird,” Gausman said. “It’s going to be just like any other last game of a series — you pitch, and then you get on a bus and get on a plane and come back here.”
Once they return, the unfamiliar Padres await. None of the Orioles’ current batters has faced either of San Diego’s projected starters, Luis Perdomo or Erik Johnson, within the past five years.
Tyler Wilson will pitch Tuesday against the Padres, and after the Orioles figure out a starter for Wednesday — perhaps Ubaldo Jimenez — they will have a much-needed day off Thursday to regroup.
“For us, off-days are a rare commodity,” Gausman said. “Anytime we can get an off-day, we love it.”
But then comes a four-game, three-day home series against the Tampa Bay Rays, with a split doubleheader Saturday. That could require bringing up yet another arm.
“We’re just trying to get to that off-day [Thursday], let the smoke clear and see what happens,” Showalter said. “Seems like a long way away right now.”