BALTIMORE — Having a desire to not only add an extra arm for a taxed bullpen prior to the All-Star break but to get extra work for starting pitcher Bud Norris, the Orioles optioned the right-hander to Double-A Bowie.
Right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take Norris’ place prior to Thursday’s game against the Washington Nationals. Norris struggled in his return from the disabled list on Wednesday, allowing five earned runs in four innings in a 6-2 loss that was his shortest outing of the season.
The Orioles chose not to send Norris on a rehab assignment prior to activating him — he threw a simulated game in Boston last weekend — and he hadn’t pitched in 17 days since leaving his June 20 start with a groin strain that landed him on the DL. The original plan was for Norris to make two starts before the break until Tuesday’s game in Washington was postponed due to rain.
Manager Buck Showalter mentioned the possibility of Norris pitching in relief on Sunday before the transaction was made, but the 29-year-old was looking at a minimum of eight days between starts even if the Orioles had put him at the top of the rotation to begin the second half.
“That’s something we’d like to stay away from,” said Showalter about Norris having another long layoff. “He’s already had his All-Star break.”
Norris is expected to make a start for the Baysox early next week and would be eligible to return from his option assignment as early as June 20, the final day of the three-game set against the Oakland Athletics.
The Orioles have manipulated their roster over the All-Star break before, optioning Chris Tillman to the minors over the break in 2012 and summoning him when he was eligible in the second half.
Norris has been regarded by most as the club’s best starting pitcher in the first half, going 7-6 with a 3.96 ERA in 15 starts.