Tag Archive | "Buck Showalter"

Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

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Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Sitting in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1997 didn’t exactly earn the Orioles any favors as they started the second half of the season in Oakland on Friday night.

A 10-game West Coast trip against the two teams with the best records in the majors and the second wild card leader in the American League probably gave manager Buck Showalter a restless night or two over this week’s respite. Knowing the Orioles play their next 23 games against clubs with winning records — not to mention the six following that against teams with .500 marks at the break — likely made him lose even more sleep.

Of course, Showalter and the Orioles have every right to feel good about themselves after winning 25 of their last 40 to move to 10 games above .500 and turn a 4 1/2-game deficit into a four-game lead over that stretch. They’ve built themselves a small cushion in a division in which no one is without sizable warts and imperfections with Toronto and New York seemingly moving in the wrong direction and Boston and Tampa Bay being mostly bad all season.

No, the trip to the West Coast will neither break nor make the Orioles’ chances of winning their first American League East title since 1997, but those 10 games allow them an opportunity to flex their muscles as a man amongst boys in an underwhelming division. Holding their own in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle — even going 5-5 — would not only keep the Orioles in first place but allow them to return home in late July in prime position to continue their quest to a second postseason appearance in the last three years.

A strong showing against the imposing AL West over the next couple weeks could be the difference between a relatively comfortable journey to October and needing to scratch and claw over the final two months of the regular season. In the same way that the Orioles took advantage of the recent struggles of the Blue Jays, the rest of the AL East will be rooting for Baltimore to wilt before finally returning to Camden Yards on July 29.

A starting rotation that’s pitched to a 3.18 ERA over its last 33 games will now face the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball over the next six contests. It was a 1-6 run against the Athletics and the Angels earlier this month that saw the Blue Jays’ one-game lead in the division turn into a 2 1/2-game deficit by the time they left the West Coast.

Even with the daunting stretch staring them in the face, the Orioles couldn’t ask for better timing as they’ll feel more rested now than they will at any point over the rest of the season. Aside from the current ankle injury to starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez — which many critics would deem a blessing anyway — the Orioles are as healthy as they’ve been at any point during the first half of the season.

Showalter has set up his rotation to include the 23-year-old Kevin Gausman — who could finally be with the Orioles for good — and will be looking for his starting pitchers to pick up where they left off to close the first half. And he’ll hope the inconsistent offense — currently ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored — will finally hit its stride and struggling first baseman Chris Davis starts looking more like the force he was a year ago and less like the .199 hitter who was lost at the plate for the first 3 1/2 months of the season.

By no means was it a perfect first half for the first-place Orioles as they lost catcher Matt Wieters for the season and saw their $50 million investment in Jimenez lead the majors in walks, but Baltimore was the least flawed of anyone in the division and still appears that way beginning the most difficult road trip of the season.

The Orioles can use these next 10 games to flex their muscles as the clear favorite in the division and solidify their first-place standing or could see themselves fall back with the rest of the imperfect pack in the AL East.

They’ve grown accustomed to being the hunter over the last three seasons; it will be interesting to see how they start the second half as the hunted after four days off to think about it.

By no means is it do or die, but the West Coast trip will be an opportunity for the Orioles to stake their claim as the overwhelming favorite in the division while sampling what they could see again in October.

 

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Showalter reveals post-break rotation for start of challenging West Coast trip

Posted on 14 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Entering the All-Star break in first place for the first time since 1997, the Orioles won’t receive any breaks to start the second half with a 10-game West Coast trip and three clubs with winning records staring them in the face.

Manager Buck Showalter revealed his starting rotation to begin the second half with Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, and Kevin Gausman pitching in the three-game series against the Oakland Athletics next weekend. After that, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez are expected to be recalled from the minors to make starts against the Los Angeles Angels on July 21 and July 22 before Tillman starts the finale in Anaheim.

Injured starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will not be activated during the road trip as he continues to work his way back from an injured ankle suffered last week. Showalter said the plan is for the struggling right-hander to make a minor-league rehab start on July 23, which would put him in line to be ready to be activated when the Orioles finally return home on July 29.

Jimenez was still favoring his ankle when he tried to work on Sunday.

“He was trying to protect it and we kind of shortened it up a little bit because it wasn’t getting any better and we didn’t want him to have a setback,” Showalter said. “They have X-rayed I’m pretty sure. He’s had a history and anybody who’s had that ankle, it gets a little weaker each time you do it or it’s more susceptible to it. Obviously, he’s got some [discomfort] in there that we’re going to have to clear up before we can pitch him.”

Catcher Steve Clevenger and relief pitcher Preston Guilmet are expected to accompany the Orioles to the West Coast and remain with the club until Norris and Gonzalez are recalled.

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Jimenez going to disabled list with freak ankle injury

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Jimenez going to disabled list with freak ankle injury

Posted on 11 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — A freak ankle injury has brought the first half of Ubaldo Jimenez’s first season in Baltimore to an end with the Orioles placing the starting pitcher on the 15-day disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter announced Friday that the 30-year-old rolled his right ankle stepping in a hole in a parking lot two days ago, forcing the Orioles to send Jimenez to the DL and recall right-hander Kevin Gausman to start against the New York Yankees on either Saturday or Sunday. Chris Tillman is likely to pitch on Saturday after initially being scheduled to start on Sunday night with Gausman taking the hill for the final game prior to the All-Star break.

“It’s pretty puffy [and] taped up,” Showalter said. “He tried to take a workday [on Thursday]. We were hoping it would resolve somewhat today. It did not. It’s real sore today”

Jimenez injured the same ankle while pitching in 2012 and is eligible to return on the sixth day after the All-Star break, according to Showalter. Because the Orioles will be recalling Gausman to take Jimenez’s place, the Orioles can only backdate Jimenez’s time on the DL to the day after Gausman was optioned on Monday, meaning he is eligible to return on July 23.

The news ends a difficult first half of the 2014 season for the right-hander as he has a 3-8 record with a 4.52 ERA and leads the majors with 60 walks in his 99 2/3 innings over 18 starts. Jimenez signed a four-year, $50 million contract in the offseason, but the veteran hasn’t lived up to the high expectations that accompanied the long-term investment.

“It is what it is. I understand how things work with people that make a living making light of things like this,” said Showalter about the nature of the ankle injury. “He’s pretty frustrated by it, but we’d rather have him healthy and pitching. If it wasn’t for the All-Star break, we might wait a couple days [to see if he'd heal quickly].”

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Orioles send Norris to Double-A Bowie for work over All-Star break

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Orioles send Norris to Double-A Bowie for work over All-Star break

Posted on 10 July 2014 by Luke Jones

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.

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Gausman’s rotation spot must be solidified after All-Star break

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Gausman’s rotation spot must be solidified after All-Star break

Posted on 07 July 2014 by Luke Jones

If the Orioles really wanted to have a sense of humor, they’d offer a Kevin Gausman yo-yo giveaway night at Camden Yards in the second half of the season.

Monday brought the expected news of the 23-year-old right-hander being optioned yet again to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for former York Revolution relief pitcher Julio DePaula, who provided manager Buck Showalter with an extra arm in the bullpen after Sunday’s 12-inning win in Boston. The 31-year-old DePaula figures to only be with the Orioles for one game with Bud Norris set to be activated from the disabled list for Tuesday’s start against the Washington Nationals.

Yes, Gausman has options and the Orioles needed an extra arm in the bullpen, making him a logical choice to be sent to the minors to create an open spot on the 25-man roster. With next week’s All-Star break looming, the argument could be made that the 2012 first-round pick could only miss one start before returning in the second half of the season.

But is the constant yo-yoing of the young pitcher between Baltimore and the minors what’s best for him and the Orioles? Shuffling the deck with the likes of T.J. McFarland, Brad Brach, and Evan Meek is one thing — executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has manipulated his roster as much as anyone over the last three years — but continuing to mess with the rhythm of your top pitching prospect wouldn’t appear to be the best way to maximize your investment.

Showalter often quips that you can’t mess up the good ones no matter how much you try, but starting pitchers are also creatures of habit. Gausman has only gotten used to a routine of unpredictability and travel over the last month as he’s been optioned twice, was called up to serve as the 26th man for a doubleheader on June 27, and has pitched for the Orioles, Triple-A Norfolk, and short-season Single-A Aberdeen over that stretch.

The Orioles say there is another reason why they’ve handled the young pitcher in the manner they have this season, but even that excuse will no longer be valid after the All-Star break.

“I think every time he goes out [to pitch], it’s good for him,” Showalter said after Sunday’s 7-6 win over the Red Sox. “We’re managing his innings so — at some point — he’s good enough and we’re good enough to pitch the rest of the season. There’s a method to what we’re doing here. We’re trying to make sure a guy like him is available the whole year.”

In 2013, Gausman pitched 129 2/3 innings split between the Orioles and the minor leagues, putting him in line to throw somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 150 to 160 innings this season. He’s pitched 78 2/3 innings so far in 2014, leaving him on track to easily be able to handle a full workload as a starter in the second half.

But the excuses appear to be running out as even Hall of Fame pitcher and MASN analyst Jim Palmer recently took the organization to task over how Gausman has been handled despite pitching to a 2.45 ERA in his five starts since June 7. Showalter made a point during the club’s last homestand that he didn’t want to send Gausman to the hill on abbreviated rest, but the right-hander has twice been recalled to make starts on three days’ rest this season, albeit following what were abbreviated outings each time.

The Orioles gave Gausman infrequent work out of the bullpen for a large stretch of his rookie season instead of allowing him to work every fifth day on his secondary pitches at Norfolk.

Showalter may quip that you can’t prevent the best prospects from reaching their full potential, but the Orioles have put on a clinic in trying to do just that with Gausman over the last calendar year.

The young pitcher’s upside — and performance over the last month — has made his inclusion in the rotation a no-brainer despite the lingering headache of what to do to make room for him. Yes, the Orioles have the ability to move him on and off the roster as needed, but that doesn’t mean they should continue doing it if they want to see him thrive in the majors — and help them advance to the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The Orioles can’t keep Gausman out of the rotation because of a $50 million investment in Ubaldo Jimenez or loyalty to Miguel Gonzalez or Wei-Yin Chen. They need to make it work in allowing their best arm to pitch in the major leagues, regardless of what that means for the rest of the rotation.

Gausman has taken the high road whenever asked about being bounced back and forth between the big club and the minor leagues, but he’s also a human being with emotions who has to be wondering what more he needs to do to stay in the majors. The right-hander could have the impact of a trade-deadline acquisition if the Orioles simply give him a chance to flourish on a regular schedule.

“That’s really not up to me,” Gausman told reporters after Sunday’s outing. “I just try to pitch well when I can and when I get the opportunity to, but I have options and they’re going to use them if they feel like they need it. If we need a bullpen guy, that’s what it’s going to be.”

Next week’s All-Star break provides a final excuse for the Orioles to send Gausman back to Norfolk for one last start or two, but it will be time to solidify his place in the rotation after that — assuming he continues to perform at a level deserving of one.

And it will no longer be good enough to simply say they needed his roster spot if the Orioles truly want Gausman to be a critical part of a second-half run to the postseason.

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Former Oriole Reimold claimed off waivers by Blue Jays

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Former Oriole Reimold claimed off waivers by Blue Jays

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Nolan Reimold was claimed off outright waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday.

The claim ends a week of speculation about the outfielder’s future. The Baltimore Orioles had activated Reimold from the 60 day disabled list (back) earlier in the week and designated him for assignment. After failing to be able to trade him, the Birds placed Reimold on outright waivers Friday.

The Blue Jays will be on the hook for the remainder of his $1.025 million salary this season.

Reimold’s Baltimore tenure ends after his most recent trip to the DL came following spine fusion surgery in the spring. This surgery was the most recent in a line of health-related issues for the Bowling Green alum. After being sidelined by an oblique strain and achilles tendon fraying early in his career, Reimold’s most significant issues began in 2012. He previously had surgery for a herniated disc in June 2012 that shortened his season, he was forced to have corrective surgery just a year later to fix the previous procedure.

Since arriving in the big leagues in 2009, Reimold played in just 286 games (all with the Orioles). He hit .252/.327/.439 with 41 home runs and 126 RBI in the span.

The O’s appeared to view Reimold as expendable in part due to a glut of right handed hitting outfielder/designated hitter/first base types on the major league roster. Manager Buck Showalter has struggled to find regular playing time for hot hitting Delmon Young due to Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce’s outstanding success to start the season as well.

CRUZ RESPONDS: Speaking of Cruz, he responded to comments made about him Saturday night by Red Sox pitcher John Lackey when speaking to reporters pre-game Sunday.

After the left fielder went 5-5 and came just a triple short of the cycle Saturday night, Lackey said “I’m not even going to comment on him. I’ve got nothing to say about him. There’s things I would like to say, but I’m not going to.”

The starter was clearly referring to Cruz’s 50 game suspension in 2013 related to PED’s and his relationship with Biogenesis.

Cruz was asked about the comments by reporters Sunday, saying “people can say whatever they want. It’s part of being free. I don’t have any comments about that,” according to CSNBaltimore.com. “What I care about is my teammates and what they think about me.”

He added “everybody is free to talk. What I care about is what I’m doing here.”

Showalter also addressed the comments in his pre-game chat with reporters, saying “you consider sources of people and some of their emotions after the game, whether it be a player’s comment or a manager’s comment or some fan’s comment. You understand that nobody makes those comments after they pitched a complete game shutout or Nelson is 0-for-5. It’s human nature. We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else’s,” also according to CSNBaltimore.com.

NOTES: Showalter re-affirmed to reporters in Boston that Bud Norris (groin) came out of his simulated game Saturday well and is expected to start Tuesday or Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. The Baltimore Sun reported the team is leaning towards Tuesday to get him an extra start before the All-Star break…MLB.com reports Sunday starter Kevin Gausman is not guaranteed to make another start before the All-Star break, saying the Birds could send him back down to get another reliever before the final week of the first half of the season…Slumping first baseman Chris Davis did not start Sunday as Showalter decided to give him a day of rest. Davis came into the day with just two hits in his last 34 at-bats

 

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Orioles still not tipping hand on looming Reimold decision

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Orioles still not tipping hand on looming Reimold decision

Posted on 28 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles must make a decision on the future of oft-injured outfielder Nolan Reimold by Monday but aren’t tipping their hand until the last moment.

Neither executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette nor manager Buck Showalter indicated what the Orioles plan to do as Reimold’s 20-day rehab assignment is coming to an end. The 30-year-old is out of minor-league options, so the Orioles must either place him on the 25-man roster or expose him to waivers and take the chance that another club will claim him.

Many critics wouldn’t view the latter as a major loss since Reimold hasn’t performed at a high level in the majors since the start of the 2012 season. He has undergone two spinal fusion surgeries since then, but the Orioles thought highly enough of Reimold to sign him to a one-year, $1.025 million contract last offseason when many expected they wouldn’t tender him a deal.

In 46 at-bats with the Baysox, Reimold is hitting .326 with two home runs, nine runs batted in, and 11 walks.

“We hope Nolan will be a factor to help our team,” Duquette said during a forum for season ticket holders on Satuday. “He’s currently down in Bowie completing his 20-day rehab. [We’ll assess] Nolan’s capability to help our ball club right now or see if he can do that later in the season. But he’s getting on base, he’s played some games in the field and as a DH, and he’s done well. He’s on his way back.”

Unlike last year, the Orioles are receiving plenty of production in left field and at the designated hitter spot with Nelson Cruz, Steve Pearce, and Delmon Young all having strong seasons. Showalter has struggled to find playing time for Young, so it wouldn’t appear to make sense to add another right-handed outfielder to the bench.

The only apparent way to make room for Reimold would be to designate light-hitting outfielder David Lough for assignment, but Showalter likes using him as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner. Lough also provides the Orioles a backup center fielder for Adam Jones, a position no other outfielder on the roster is equipped to handle.

Barring an injury over the next day or two, the Orioles’ only practical option for Reimold might be to designate him for assignment with the plan to outright him to Triple-A Norfolk if no other club decides to take a chance on him after two major neck surgeries. With so much sweat equity invested in his recovery, the Orioles would clearly prefer keeping him in the organization without compromising their major league roster in the process.

“I know we’ve had some discussions about it,” Showalter said. “[Vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson] has been down there a few times. He’s up to speed on him. He talks to Nolan a lot. Obviously, there’s a pending move there.”

In 936 career major league at-bats, Reimold has hit .252 with 41 home runs, 126 RBIs, and a .327 on-base percentage.

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Orioles roster on skates with Machado’s looming suspension, Norris’ groin injury

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Orioles roster on skates with Machado’s looming suspension, Norris’ groin injury

Posted on 25 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With third baseman Manny Machado awaiting a decision on an appeal of a five-game suspension and starting pitcher Bud Norris still dealing with groin soreness, the Orioles are preparing to shuffle their roster over the next several days with various scenarios in play.

Machado had his hearing in Baltimore on Wednesday with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and agent Dan Lozano in attendance. Joe Garagiola, Jr., senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for Major League Baseball, was also present as the sides met at the Camden Yards warehouse.

“At this point, there’s nothing to talk about,” Machado told reporters prior to Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. “Just wait and see how many games I’m going to get suspended. Hopefully, I don’t and just get fined.”

The Orioles remain hopeful that a ruling will not come prior to Friday’s split doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays because they are not allowed to fill Machado’s roster spot for however many games he must sit. Manager Buck Showalter acknowledged they would likely need another infielder in Machado’s absence. Logical candidates who could be added include Steve Lombardozzi and Jemile Weeks, who are both on the 40-man roster and currently playing at Triple-A Norfolk.

As far as which pitcher would go to make room for an additional infielder, Norris could figure into that equation as he was still experiencing some discomfort with his right groin while throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday. The right-hander had hoped to make the start in the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader, but Chris Tillman will go in his place.

For now, the Orioles are optimistic that Norris will avoid the disabled list, but their roster needs with the Machado suspension could complicate that expectation. Showalter announced after Wednesday’s game that Norris would undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Thursday morning.

“I don’t think Friday’s a good option,” said Showalter, who added that Norris is more uncomfortable working from the stretch than the windup. “[He's] a little tentative, but better. I just don’t think he’s quite there yet.”

Showalter added that Norris is still in play to potentially start on Saturday or Sunday, but he will need at least one more bullpen session to see where he is from a physical standpoint. Because of Thursday’s off-day, the Orioles could push Norris as far back as Tuesday before they would need another starting pitcher.

Right-hander Kevin Gausman will start the first game on Friday as the 26th man that can be added for day-night doubleheaders, but the 23-year-old will then return to the minors for the remainder of his 10-day requirement after being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk last weekend. Gausman would be able to return to make his next start next Wednesday, but that would still leave Tuesday unaddressed should Norris not be ready by that point in time.

While they wait to see how quickly Norris continues to improve, the Orioles have several ways to handle the Machado suspension while keeping an eye on a potential need for a starter next Tuesday.

“We have things in place,” Showalter said. “Maybe somebody moves to Bowie to be closer. We’ve got some things in place — infielders, possible pitchers. There are some moving parts on it. We’re trying to prepare for the scenarios.

“Everybody’s in play. And there’s about a 50-percent [chance] that we stand pat [depending on] what happens.”

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Machado suspension hearing set to take place on Wednesday

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Machado suspension hearing set to take place on Wednesday

Posted on 24 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed that the hearing for third baseman Manny Machado’s five-game suspension will finally take place in Baltimore on Thursday.

The 21-year-old is appealing the discipline handed down by Major League Baseball for a bat-throwing incident that took place against the Oakland Athletics on June 8 and his bench-clearing altercation with Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson two days earlier. Machado was ejected from the Sunday game before being suspended for five games and fined an undisclosed amount.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will attend the hearing while Showalter expressed hope on Tuesday that a final decision would not come prior to Friday’s split doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Orioles will play a man down for however long Machado is ultimately suspended.

“Some of their precedents have been longer than [a few days] before they’ve announced it,” said Showalter when asked if a decision might not come until after the twin bill. “If [before Friday is] what they decide, you’ve got to take your medicine. I don’t think it needs to be resolved before Saturday. What do you think?”

It remains unclear when a decision will be handed down on the suspension, but the organization and Machado have expressed confidence that the five-game penalty will be reduced.

Athletics relief pitcher Fernando Abad was also ejected from the June 8 game and eventually fined but not suspended for throwing two inside pitches before Machado hurled his bat.

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Norris leaves Saturday’s start early with right groin tightness

Posted on 21 June 2014 by Luke Jones

Less than 24 hours after optioning Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles now face a new question in their starting rotation after Bud Norris left Saturday’s 6-1 win in the sixth inning with right groin tightness.

The right-hander was lifted from the game as he warmed up for the bottom of the sixth after telling manager Buck Showalter that he was beginning to feel some discomfort in the previous inning. Norris held the New York Yankees to one earned run in five innings to improve his record to 7-5 on the season, and the Orioles hope he will still be able to make his next scheduled start on Friday.

“I’m hoping we caught it in time,” Showalter told reporters in New York following the game. “He felt it a little bit the inning before, and I just didn’t want to take a chance. He’s getting an extra day next time out. [He'll] probably pitch the night game of the split doubleheader. We’ve got other options, but I’m hoping we caught it in time and kept it from developing into something with the groin that obviously you don’t want long-term.”

Norris has been the club’s most consistent starter this season, pitching to a 3.62 ERA in 14 starts this season. He sports a 4-0 record in the month of June and has allowed only two earned runs in his last 19 2/3 innings of work.

Should Norris not be able to make his next start, the Orioles could simply move up Chris Tillman to start on Friday since he will be pitching on Sunday and would be on four days’ rest.

“It’s pretty sore right now,” Norris told reporters after the game. “I’m going to get in there and do a little more treatment and get another ice and [electronic stimulation] in. We get an extra day [off] this week, too, so you’ve really got to take your treatment in the next couple days and see how it’ll progress.”

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