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Orioles notebook: Plan for Kevin Gausman unclear with next rehab start shortened

Right-hander Kevin Gausman is scheduled to pitch just two innings in his next minor league rehabilitation appearance, leaving room for wide speculation about what his role will be when he returns from the disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter would not shed much light on the situation after announcing that Gausman's third rehab appearance would be a short one for the High-A Frederick Keys on Tuesday at Harry Grove Stadium.

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"I think that will reveal itself as we go forward," Showalter said, then jokingly tried to hum a couple bars of suspenseful background music.

It's possible to view that decision any number of ways. The strict limitation could be an indication that Showalter intends to bring Gausman back to pitch predominantly in middle relief, since he has experience in that role and the club has enough candidates to fill the hole in the rotation left by the groin injury sidelining Miguel Gonzalez.

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However, it's also possible that Showalter wants to give Gausman a short tune-up outing that would not take him completely out of consideration for a spot start if a need arises on the upcoming road trip.

Gausman pitched 3 1/3 innings against Double-A Binghamton on Thursday night at Prince George's Stadium and allowed four runs — all scoring on a pair of home runs — but said Friday that he was satisfied with the way he pitched and happy with the way his arm felt.

"I felt good," he said. "That's the biggest thing — physically I feel good. Today, woke up, normal soreness, not anything worse than what I was expecting."

He threw 61 pitches, so he's not far from the point where he could make a spot start if necessary. The results weren't eye-popping, but they weren't disconcerting either.

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"Felt good about all [my pitches]," Gausman said. "I threw a lot of good changeups that they laid off. Maybe they just had a thing where they were only going to swing at fastballs unless there was two strikes. Threw everything and mixed in all my pitches. That's what my goal was, so I feel pretty good about that."

Schoop progressing

Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who has been rehabbing a PCL injury to his right knee, appears to be closer to getting into game action than club officials were willing to admit just a day or two ago.

Showalter said Schoop would return from Sarasota, Fla., on Sunday and stay with the major league club through the four interleague games against the Phillies in Baltimore and Philadelphia.

"He'll work with us Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Philadelphia, and probably join the Bowie club," Showalter said. "Whether it's on rehab or not is yet to be seen. He could just be with them. We'll have a pretty good idea of where he is, hopefully in the next four or five days."

Showalter said that it would be "a stretch" to think that Schoop would be playing a week from now, but would not say it was out of the realm of possibility.

The club is not projecting his return to the major league lineup, but if he were to join the Baysox and begin playing games in the next two weeks, he might be ready to rejoin the big league club around the All-Star break.

Schoop played in only nine games before suffering the injury April 17.

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Wieters could play first base in a pinch

Catcher Matt Wieters, who has started five games since returning this month from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery last June, has been taking ground balls at first base in pregame warmups.

Wieters has started four games behind the plate, but has yet to catch on back-to-back days. To keep his bat in the lineup, he has been the designated hitter once — and has been excelling at the plate. He is hitting .316 (6-for-19) since returning to the team last Friday in Cleveland.

On Friday, Showalter said Wieters potentially could play at first in a game if Chris Davis and Steve Pearce weren't available or there was a compelling reason to keep Wieters in the lineup and DH wasn't an option.

"I can envision anything. You know us. I can envision Steve Pearce playing second base," Showalter said. "I have no doubt [Wieters] would be a good first baseman. I know his target is going to be good."

Showalter then made a crack about what the career catcher — Wieters started one game at first base for the Orioles in 2011 — would do when getting a throw from shortstop J.J. Hardy.

"He's gonna give J.J. a sign before he throws it across the diamond," Showalter said.

Around the horn

Reliever Wesley Wright pitched an inning in Florida on Friday and is getting ready to go on a rehab assignment, but there's no word yet on where that will start. … Delmon Young entered Friday tied for the major league lead with eight outfield assists. … The Orioles are holding their annual food and funds drive this weekend. A group of volunteers, including Orioles' wives, will be collecting non-perishable food items and monetary donations for the Maryland Food Bank at all Camden Yards entrances Saturday and Sunday. …Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez entered Friday's game needing eight hits to reach 3,000 in his career. … Showalter went into Friday night one win away from catching Hank Bauer for third on the Orioles' all-time managerial wins list with 407. Earl Weaver (1,480) and Paul Richards (517) are first and second, respectively.

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