BALTIMORE — After matching his season high with eight strong innings in his start against the New York Yankees Friday, Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk a day later.
Joining fellow starter Bud Norris in being sent to the minors for a start during the All-Star break, Gonzalez will be eligible to return for his next major league start against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim on July 22. He is slated to pitch for the Tides on Thursday before rejoining the Orioles on the West Coast.
Gonzalez is 4-5 with a 4.04 ERA in 89 innings this season and has completed eight innings in each of his last two starts after failing to do that in any of his first 13 starts.
The club recalled catcher Steve Clevenger from the Tides to take Gonzalez’s spot on the roster. He will provide another left-handed bat off the bench for the time being and was hitting .328 for Norfolk after hitting .243 with the Orioles earlier this season.
Norris was optioned to Double-A Bowie on Thursday to shake off some of the rust he showed in Wednesday’s start against Washington upon being activated from the 15-day disabled list. Manager Buck Showalter plans to send Norris to the hill against the Angels on July 21.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and Showalter have enjoyed the benefit of having four starting pitchers with minor-league options to add an extra bullpen arm and a third catcher for a few games while preventing Norris and Gonzalez from having extended layoffs.
Though no official order has been set, the Orioles are all but guaranteed to give starts to Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, and Kevin Gausman against the Oakland Athletics when they begin a three-game set there next Friday to begin the second half of the season. Struggling starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will officially be placed on the DL to make room for the returning Gausman to pitch against the Yankees on Sunday night.
The only possible drawback would be a short-term injury or illness to any of the scheduled starters in the Oakland series with Norris unable to come back until July 20 and Gonzalez ineligible until July 22 without someone else being placed on the DL. Of course, the Orioles could likely use lefty reliever T.J. McFarland as an emergency starter in a pinch.