This may come as a surprise to loyal Orioles fans, but the club is going to make a roster move on Sunday.
I was kidding about the surprise part.
The Orioles’ Norfolk Express, which in the last three weeks has brought Josh Stinson, Zach Britton, Luis Exposito, Zach Clark, Steve Johnson, Freddy Garcia and Alex Burnett (twice), will be running again Sunday morning.
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Technically, the reliever that will be called up will be coming from Syracuse, where the Tides are this weekend. There’s a flight into Minneapolis that leaves at 5:30 a.m. and gets in around 10:30 a.m., says to Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Johnson, who pitched just four innings in his 2013 Orioles’ debut Saturday, is heading back to Norfolk.
But who is heading to Minnesota?
Showalter said he has two options, presumably a left-hander and a right-hander.
He’d like to make it a righty who can pitch multiple innings, as the pitcher will be insurance for Sunday’s starter, left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.
“[It would be] in a perfect world, because of the left-handed starter,” Showalter said. “But the [Twins] will probably have two or three left-handed hitters in [the lineup] tomorrow. But there may not be a perfect world. We'll wait and see how a couple guys are health-wise, too.”
The Tides bullpen has been pretty strong, so there are several candidates to choose from including right-handers Adam Russell and Jair Jurrjens and lefties Daniel Schlereth, Mark Hendrickson and Mike Belfiore, who is the only member of that group on the 40-man roster. Because Brian Roberts can easily be moved to the 60-day disabled list, however, the Orioles could choose a non-40-man pitcher.
If I have to guess, I’m going to say Russell, who is 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA. He is right-handed and can pitch multiple innings and last threw in a game on Thursday (two scoreless innings).
Manny Delcarmen and Jairo Asencio have better numbers, but they both pitched Saturday. Hendrickson, the left-handed veteran, is a wild card because he is a Showalter favorite and can be used in multiple roles. Schlereth has just a 0.93 ERA but he is more of a situational left-hander.
The time is ticking on Jurrjens – who has a June 15 opt-out – but I would think they’d rather save him for a rotation opening. But he is right-handed and would provide length. He is scheduled to start Monday’s game for the Tides.