What are the Orioles doing with Kevin Gausman? I don't understand why he couldn't just be part of the rotation.
-- Michael B., Crofton, Md.
You aren't alone. I got a lot of questions following Sunday's news about Gausman's demotion asking why he's not considered one of the Orioles' best five starters. The simple answer is: It doesn't matter. The O's have both Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez returning to the rotation this week, meaning they have six pitchers for five spots, and they don't have a flexible enough roster to option anyone else out of the rotation without the risk of losing him.
The Orioles don't want to put Gausman, who made his first big league start this season on Saturday, back in the bullpen. He's only pitched 17 innings for the Orioles so far this year. The smartest move is to keep him in Triple-A, where he can build back up his innings and get on a regular rotation. Having Gausman -- along with Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright -- as an option down below is going to come into play at some point this season. The only question is when.
Any idea on when Jonathan Schoop will be able to rejoin the team?
-- Allen R., Columbia, Md.
There's definitely the sense that Schoop will be back before the All-Star break, perhaps even earlier than that. Schoop has played in three consecutive games for Double-A Bowie, and he's gotten great reports defensively regarding his right knee. The O's could definitely use a power bat in the bottom of the lineup, and if Schoop keeps playing at this clip, it's not unreasonable to think he could join the O's within a week or so.
How much of a concern is Adam Jones' injury? And how do you see the outfield situation shaking out?
-- Patrick S., Arlington, Va.
Any time Jones -- who hasn't missed more than three games in one season since 2011 -- is sidelined, it's a concern. But the fact that he reported feeling sore after serving as the designated hitter on Saturday afternoon certainly makes the O's a little uneasy. Still, he will be coming off two rest days on Tuesday, and his availability for the series opener in Boston should shed a lot more light on that right shoulder injury and if the disabled list is a possibility.
As for the outfield situation, having seven of them is definitely not ideal, and the Orioles will have to make some big decisions over the next few days as they active Gonzalez, Chen and possibly Schoop. I'd expect Baltimore to trim at least one outfielder, though it has been creative with roster manipulation in the past and will try it's best to avoid losing anyone for good. Much of that hinges on Jones' status in Boston.
What are the Orioles going to do with Chris Tillman?
-- Dan R., New York
Keep running him out there. Tillman is out of options and has shown how much he can help this team when he's pitching well. The righty said after Sunday's loss that he feels like he's getting there, with wins in three of his past four starts. Buck Showalter echoed that confidence and said if anyone can figure things out, it's pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti.