Continuing to need extra help in their overworked bullpen, the Orioles recalled right-handed pitcher Zach Clark and optioned left-hander Zach Britton to Triple-A Norfolk before Tuesday night’s game in Seattle.
The club also officially selected the contract of veteran catcher Chris Snyder and designated fellow catcher Luis Exposito for assignment to make room for Snyder on the 40-man roster.
The 25-year-old Britton made his first start of the season on Monday, allowing six earned runs in six innings as the Orioles suffered a 6-2 loss to the Mariners. The Orioles will need a starter for Britton’s spot in the rotation on Saturday in Anaheim, which means they will likely be using their fourth different pitcher in the last four starts for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Though Britton’s performance hardly inspired confidence, his demotion after just one start doesn’t speak well for his overall standing and likely doesn’t send the best message to young pitchers in the organization. The mentality that you need to earn a spot is fine, but holding too short of a leash could also make pitchers feel they need to be perfect, which isn’t conducive to being successful.
Some had thought the club would elect to send out reserve outfielder Chris Dickerson, who has seldom been used as the fourth player on the bench. Manager Buck Showalter hasn’t shied away from using a short bench in the past, so it seemed like an appropriate time to replace Dickerson with another arm to help the bullpen.
The question now becomes whether Showalter and the Orioles will turn to veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia, who pitched eight strong innings on Monday night and currently has a 2.67 ERA in five starts covering 33 2/3 innings of work. The 36-year-old agreed on Monday to extend his opt-out clause to May 14.
Right-hander Jair Jurrjens is scheduled to start for the Tides on Friday, meaning he would also be a candidate for Saturday’s start against the Los Angeles Angels.
Clark, 29, was born in Delaware and is a UMBC graduate who will be making his major league debut if and when he appears in a game for the Orioles. He is 1-2 with a 4.56 earned run average in five starts covering 25 2/3 innings with Norfolk this season. Last season, he went 15-7 with a 2.79 ERA in 28 games (26 starts) with Double-A Bowie and the Tides.
The rookie will wear No. 64.
The 32-year-old Snyder was acquired in a trade with the Angels on Sunday. He is a career .225 hitter in nine major league seasons with Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Houston. He has thrown out 29 percent (141-for-488) of attempted base stealers in his career. Snyder was batting .342 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in 21 games for Triple-A Salt Lake this season. He will wear No. 48.
Exposito didn’t appear in a game during his two-day stint with the 25-man roster following the weekend injury to backup catcher Taylor Teagarden.
In other roster news, right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list and optioned to Norfolk after making two rehab starts for the Tides. He was placed on the DL on March 23 with a right lat strain.
Optioning Johnson to the Tides means he will not be an option for Saturday’s start as he will need to remain with the Tides for 10 days barring an injury on the 25-man roster that forces a player to the disabled list.