Troy Patton is in Baltimore. Or as it’s known to him - Limbo.
He’s here but he’s not here. He’s in the clubhouse but he’s not on the roster.
The Orioles flew Patton to Boston and brought him to Camden Yards in case they put first baseman Derrek Lee on the disabled list and returned to a 13-man pitching staff. Instead, Lee remains day-to-day.
So does Patton.
“I don’t know what the deal is,” he quipped. “I’ve been trying to ask around the front office peeps to get the inside scoop, but no leaks. No leaks at all.
“This is becoming the norm. I’d rather be an option than not an option at all. I can’t complain about even having the chance to get the opportunity.”
Patton’s chances of being recalled took a hit with Lee stating that the discomfort in his left oblique has subsided. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said it eventually will become a math issue, meaning the club will be forced to put Lee on the disabled list after a few more days to avoid playing with a 24-man roster.
It feels more like 23 tonight with Brian Roberts out of the lineup because of persistent headaches.
The Orioles are prepared to take pitcher Alfredo Simon off the restricted list on Sunday. One way to make room for him would be to put Lee on the disabled list, which would bump Patton back to Triple-A Norfolk. However, that would keep the Orioles at least one player short for both games against the Yankees and the first two games against the Nationals.
Patton could replace Lee within the next few days, but his spot would be in jeopardy once Simon came off the restricted list.
Five of Patton’s six appearances with Norfolk this year came in relief. He was 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA, with 14 hits, five walks and 15 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. Opponents batted .226 against him.
“Out of the bullpen, it’s a whole lot more emotions. It’s a lot more emotional pitching,” he said. “I can throw all four pitches from the beginning, so I’ve been pretty much approaching each hitter like it’s the first time I’ve faced him. Instead of in a start, where I’m usually trying to save my curveball until later or not show them everything, each guy I’m throwing everything to get them out. It’s been nice and easy to mix in changeups early in outings. I can use a lot more changeups, use a lot more curveballs and then come back hard late. I’ve just been kind of mixing it up more than in a start, where you try to outline what you’re doing and try to set them up for those second and third at-bats. I don’t know if I’m going to be facing them again, so I’ve just been going after every guy.”
Patton has been stretched out enough where he can throw “up to 80, 85 pitches,” he said.
“I feel like. I’ve been going at least 50 in every outing. The last outing I was somewhere around 60 or 70, and I got taken out because I loaded the bases. I wasn’t tired. It was because of a lack of focus. It wasn’t fatigue at all. I was still throwing the same velocity and the same pitches. Just missed a couple spots. But I think I can go 80, 85 pitches if I need to at any point.”
The Orioles intended to move Patton back into Norfolk’s rotation at some point this summer, but he’s not sure it will happen. And he doesn’t seem overly concerned about it.
“I think originally it was that, but now it’s just kind of flying by the seat of your pants. Just whatever happens,” he said. “I don’t envision me starting in Triple-A anytime soon, so I think I’m just going to kind of settle into this role as long guy and embrace it until further notice.”