(Updated: Friday at 12:05 p.m.)
BALTIMORE — After leaving his start with right groin discomfort last Saturday in New York, Orioles pitcher Bud Norris was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The right-hander underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Thursday that revealed a strain that will force him to miss at least one start. Norris was still experiencing discomfort while completing a bullpen session on Wednesday that prompted the Orioles to recommend further testing. Norris is eligible to be activated from the DL on July 7.
“When [the doctors] said it was going to be four or five days before he can get on the hill again, waiting around isn’t very beneficial,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We feel confident that we can resolve it in the DL period.”
Showalter will not need another starter until Tuesday as Kevin Gausman was summoned to pitch the first game of Friday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays with Chris Tillman starting the nightcap in Norris’ place. Because of Thursday’s off-day, the Orioles will send lefty Wei-Yin Chen to the hill on Saturday and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez on Sunday to conclude the four-game series. Ubaldo Jimenez will then pitch Monday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers on four days’ rest.
Gausman served as the club’s 26th man roster exemption for the day-night doubleheader and will be returned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game to fulfill his 10-day requirement in the minors. He is expected to be recalled in time to make his next start on Wednesday, but he is not an option to pitch on short rest for Tuesday’s game, according to Showalter.
The Orioles could look at current long reliever T.J. McFarland to make a spot start on Tuesday before settling into a five-man rotation with Gausman occupying Norris’ original slot.
“Right now, we’re probably looking for a break from the weather,” quipped Showalter, who added that newly-signed Norfolk lefty Randy Wolf isn’t ready to be an option for Tuesday. “We’ll be alright. We’ve got some good options.”
Right-handed relief pitcher Evan Meek was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take Norris’ place and serve as an extra arm in the bullpen for the twin bill. Meek is 2-0 with three saves and a 2.79 ERA in 17 games for the Tides and has gone 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA in 13 appearances for the Orioles this season
With third baseman Manny Machado’s looming suspension, the Orioles must play a man down in his absence and cannot use his spot on the roster, which led to them recalling Meek to use Norris’ roster slot for the time being with that spot expected to eventually address Machado’s absence. When a decision is made on Machado, the club will add an extra infielder — presumably in place of Meek or another reliever — and Jemile Weeks will likely be recalled as he traveled to Baltimore on Thursday night.
Though Norris isn’t expected to be sidelined for long, the news is a tough break for the 29-year-old as he’s been the club’s most consistent starting pitcher this season. In 14 starts, Norris owns a 7-5 record with a 3.62 ERA in 87 innings and has struck out 60 while walking 28 batters.