Tommy Hunter and other random thoughts

What will tonight bring for Orioles starter Tommy Hunter?

Hopefully, Hunter will bring his fastball. Just check his back pocket.

You’ll recall that Hunter didn’t have his fastball in an 8-1 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, and it cost him eight runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings and inflated his ERA to 5.79.

“I’ve got a couple bullpens coming up and the emphasis is going to be down in the zone,” he said afterward. “I’ll find my fastball, I will find it. It will come. Just got to reach in my back pocket and pick it out.

“I don’t know what it is, I don’t know what happened today. I’ve got to figure it out, bottom line. You’ve got to throw strikes and you’ve got to throw strikes down in the zone to win a ballgame in the big leagues.”

Hunter has surrendered six home runs in 18 2/3 innings, tied for most in the majors and taking him halfway to his total for the 2011 season. The Blue Jays have a few guys who can launch a baseball, so Hunter must reverse this trend.

In his career, Hunter is 1-3 with a 6.65 ERA in nine appearances against the Blue Jays.

I wrote plenty yesterday on the Dontrelle Willis drama, but here’s my take:

The Orioles are convinced that Willis has other offers out there and he’s trying to get out of his contract. Willis’ agent, Matt Sosnick, denies it, saying the left-hander is searching for an opportunity to start at Triple-A, but no offers are on the table.

Someone in the organization told Sosnick that the Orioles would release Willis, but executive vice president Dan Duquette isn’t going along with it. He wants Willis to honor his contract and make more of an effort to build up his arm and innings and become a lefty specialist.

Willis is convinced that his forearm injury resulted from pitching in relief. If he’s not on board with this experiment, I don’t see how the Orioles are going to benefit from keeping him in the organization.

It was a curious signing to begin with, since the Orioles designated Clay Rapada for assignment because they couldn’t afford the luxury of a lefty specialist, and he’s sensational in that role. How can it possibly turn out well at this point?

The Bill Hall signing leads to all sorts of speculation.

Is he being prepped to take over third base for Mark Reynolds? I know that’s what many of you are thinking.

You won’t find anyone in the organization who will confirm that suspicion if it’s true.

Hall has played third base, second base, shortstop and all three outfield positions. The Orioles could be looking at him more as a utility player. They certainly regard him as an upgrade over Josh Bell.

Duquette likes Hall’s defense and his production against left-handers. Hall is a career .258/.328/.454 hitter vs. southpaws, with 40 home runs in 1,019 at-bats. He’s a career .244/.297/.428 hitter vs. right-handers, with 84 homers in 2,306 at-bats.

Maybe he’s the next man up if the Orioles cut ties with Nick Johnson, who’s 0-for-23. I’d suggest he could replace Ryan Flaherty, except the Orioles aren’t looking to offer the Rule 5 pick back to the Cubs.

No sense reading too much into it. Right now, it’s just a minor league signing that provides another option for the Orioles if they need to make a roster move. He’s had success in the majors, he’s versatile and he didn’t cost the Orioles a player or much money.

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