This, that and the other

Tommy Hunter didn't record an out in the fourth inning last night, giving the Orioles their shortest outing of the season and raising serious questions about his immediate future.

Hunter hasn't won since April 24 and his ERA's up to 5.59. He's surrendered 13 home runs in 58 innings.

The Orioles can go in a variety of directions with Hunter. They can leave him in the rotation, move him to the bullpen, option him to Triple-A Norfolk today while activating outfielder Endy Chavez from the disabled list or option him later when Zach Britton returns.

I'm not placing odds here, but I'd expect Hunter to be optioned before the Orioles consider changing his role.

As I wrote last night, the Orioles are off Thursday and Monday. They can tweak the rotation, going with four starters, and hold onto an extra bench player or reliever.

Hunter desperately needs to find a way to keep the ball down. Everything is up and everything is getting hit hard.

Major props to Dana Eveland for the four scoreless innings in relief last night, which might have largely gone unnoticed in a 6-2 loss. He saved the bullpen and kept the game from getting completely out of hand.

Xavier Avery was 3-for-27 going into last night's game, and he struck out in his first three at-bats. He's flailing at off-speed pitches. He may never see another fastball.

Left-hander Ricky Romero starts tonight for the Blue Jays. If you're writing out your own lineup, keep in mind that left-handers are hitting .275 against Romero lifetime, compared to .228 for right-handers. This year, lefties are hitting .238 and righties are hitting .192.

Romero is 6-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 12 career starts against the Orioles. They might want to be patient against him tonight. He's walked 37 batters and struck out 49 in 65 1/3 innings this season. In his last start, he held the Rays to two hits over six innings, but he walked seven.

Miguel Tejada collected his first extra-base hit yesterday in eight games with Norfolk, stroking a double as part of his 2-for-5 afternoon. He's 11-for-29 (.379) with five RBIs.

I talked to a scout from outside the organization who says Tejada has no range at third base, but he makes all the routine plays. He'll field anything hit to him and make an accurate throw. The Orioles would probably settle for that, though "no range" reminds me too much of Tony Batista.

Also, the scout said Tejada makes consistent contact - also a plus - but doesn't have much power anymore. He mostly hits the ball to the opposite field, and he's morphed into a singles hitter who will mix in the occasional double.

At least Batista would run into a fastball.

Roberts Intense on Bench wide.jpgA reminder that second baseman Brian Roberts will be in Single-A Delmarva's lineup tonight and tomorrow, as his injury-rehab assignments takes him from the Eastern League to the South Atlantic League.

He'll return to Double-A Bowie before finishing up with Norfolk. Sorry, Tides fans, but he'll be on the road for those games.

Every time MASN or MASN2 airs a game, I'm asked on the blog and on Twitter (@MASNroch) about Jim Palmer's absence from the broadcast booth. I'm ready to do another "Because You Asked" just to address this question, since my responses seem to get lost.

I've been told that he's fine. Palmer and Mike Bordick were scheduled to split the 162 games. As far as I know, that's still the arrangement.

Reliever Stu Pomeranz, diagnosed with a tear in his left oblique, had done a tremendous job of improving his time to home plate. He was 1.8 seconds in spring training, but got it down to 1.2.

The Red Sox could be willing to trade Kevin Youkilis, which I never imagined would happen before this season. I'd love his personality and winning background in the Orioles' clubhouse. I've made that statement in the past. Nothing wrong with his bat in the lineup, either.

However, I ran his name past one person in the organization who gave me a strange look and immediately brought up Youkilis' bad back and contract - he's making $12 million this season with a club option worth $13 million in 2013 - as reasons why the Sox want to dump him, and why he'd be a risky acquisition.

Ryan Ripken, son of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, has committed to the University of South Carolina, but he could opt to play professional baseball after next week's First-Year Player Draft.

The Orioles and Brewers are two of the teams doing their homework on Ripken, and there are others.


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