BALTIMORE — With Saturday’s starter yet to be determined, the Orioles have elected to go with an extra man in the bullpen with reliever Matt Lindstrom being activated from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday.
Utility player Steve Tolleson was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, giving the Orioles eight men in the bullpen for the time being. The extra arm is viewed as an insurance policy with the uncertainty of who will pitch in the third of a four-game set against the Cleveland Indians. Tommy Hunter and long reliever Dana Eveland remain as candidates to make the start, but manager Buck Showalter has not ruled out reaching to the minor leagues for a starter.
Tides right-hander Miguel Gonzalez would be working on normal rest on Saturday. He started on Monday for the Tides, pitching six innings and allowing one earned run while striking out eight.
“I think with some of the things we’re going to have to do in our rotation, we want to make sure we have some length and we’re covered in our pitching,” Showalter said. “We could get back to [four] position players some time after the weekend — where we were — but we just want to make sure we’re covered for the next few days.”
Showalter said the Orioles will go with 13 pitchers through the weekend before re-evaluating as they go on the West Coast for the final trip before the All-Star break.
Lindstrom posted a 1.29 earned run average in 14 innings with 14 strikeouts and four walks in 13 games before being placed on the disabled list on May 11 with a partially-torn ligament in his right middle finger. He made four rehab appearances combined with the Gulf Coast team and Double-A Bowie before returning to Baltimore on Tuesday.
The right-hander held a late-inning role in the bullpen prior to the injury, so it will be interesting to see how Showalter works him back into the mix. Ideally, the Orioles manager would like to use Lindstrom in some low-pressure situations at first, but how the club fares against opponents will determine whether that becomes a reality.
Showalter would prefer to keep Lindstrom as a one-inning guy even though he had a two-inning stint for Double-A Bowie last Friday.
“A lot of that’s dictated by your starting pitcher,” Showalter said. “I feel comfortable using him a second inning, but I’d like to stay away from him — like a lot of our guys.”
As was the case when he was optioned when Brian Roberts returned two weeks ago, Tolleson was a victim of the numbers game. The club also looked ahead at the projected pitching matchups over the next week and saw mostly right-handers opposing them. Tolleson has played primarily against left-handed starters such as the Angels’ C.J. Wilson on Tuesday night.
He was hitting .220 (11-for-50) with two home runs and six runs batted in over 17 games for the Orioles.
“It’s kind of like last time,” Showalter said. “I wanted to give him some at-bats. He’s done a good job for us against left-handed pitching.”
Showalter said Tolleson will report to Norfolk on Saturday, so he can take care of the logistics of moving his family.
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