The revolving roster door swung open again Tuesday as the Orioles officially recalled left-handed pitcher Zach Britton and purchased the contract of right-hander Brad Bergesen to add a fresh arm to a weary bullpen prior to the second of a four-game set with the Minnesota Twins.
Right-hander reliever Miguel Socolovich was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and second baseman Robert Andino was placed on the 15-day disabled list after Monday’s MRI revealed the infielder would miss at least three weeks with a left shoulder injury. To clear room for Bergesen on the 40-man roster, designated hitter Nick Johnson (right wrist) was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Britton’s 2012 debut came much later than anyone expected after the 24-year-old opened the season on the disabled list with a nerve impingement in his left shoulder. Upon being activated on June 6, the left-hander was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk where the Orioles wanted to see him continue to build arm strength as well as work on commanding his breaking pitches better.
In eight starts with the Tides, Britton was 4-1 with a 4.15 earned run average over 47 2/3 innings. In his final tuneup in Triple A on July 12, he pitched seven shutout innings while striking out six and allowing four hits in a 7-0 victory for the Tides.
The addition of Bergesen brings a fresh arm to a tired Baltimore bullpen that pitched 7 1/3 innings Monday in an embarrassing 19-7 loss to the Twins. He is 4-3 with one save and a 4.03 ERA in 80 1/3 innings over 22 games (10 starts) with Triple-A Norfolk this season. He has pitched to a 2.89 ERA in 28 innings out of the bullpen this season, including a 2.35 clip in his last 10 appearances since June 9.
Socolovich made his major league debut on Saturday and allowed four earned runs in four innings of work for the Orioles.
With Jim Thome now holding down the designated hitter duties for the Orioles, Johnson’s future with the club remains in doubt, but he’s been on the disabled list since June 28 and has a history of chronic wrist issues.
Right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter will make Wednesday’s start in Minnesota, meaning the Orioles will be making yet another roster move in the next 24 hours.
Given how poorly the Orioles have pitched in recent weeks, the barrage of moves feels like little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titantic with so few appealing options at their disposal.