BOSTON - Chris Tillman had another solid outing last night for Triple-A Norfolk, and manager Buck Showalter knew about it before meeting with reporters after the Orioles’ 2-1 win over the Red Sox. He immediately checks the box scores and the reports on all of the affiliates.
I’m trying to figure out which direction the Orioles are going in regard to their handling of Norfolk’s roster. I’ve decided that it’s more than one way.
Grow the arms is still a huge part of their philosophy, but they seem more inclined to give 49-year-old Jamie Moyer a shot in their rotation than Tillman, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, Zach Britton or Steve Johnson.
Tillman has allowed two runs and two hits, walked two and struck out 16 in his last two outings covering 14 2/3 innings. Bergesen has turned in four straight quality starts and tossed five scoreless innings before the streak began. Berken allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings on May 27, and though he wasn’t as sharp in his next start, his ERA is 2.45. Johnson, just added to the 40-man roster, has a 3.04 ERA that was even lower before he allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings in his first start after coming off the disabled list and being pushed further back because of a rainout.
Britton was removed from the 60-day disabled list yesterday and optioned to Norfolk. The Orioles need a fifth starter Saturday, but he’s never been under consideration. The Orioles want him to stay with the Tides.
Dontrelle Willis is close to joining an affiliate, presumably Norfolk, and working as a starter, according to executive vice president Dan Duquette. Joel Piniero is pitching at extended spring training and also could force his way into the rotation.
If you check out the bullpen, you’ll find veteran left-hander J.C. Romero, signed to a minor league contract on May 24 after the Cardinals became the latest team to release him.
If you’ve got gray in your beard and no job, the Orioles just might reach out to you.
And it’s not just pitchers. The Orioles have Bill Hall on the Norfolk roster after outrighting him for a second time. They signed outfielder Nate McLouth two days ago. Miguel Tejada is still manning the hot corner. Lew Ford, who hasn’t played in the majors since 2007, was part of their outfield before going on the temporary inactive list yesterday.
“We’ve added a number of pitchers for depth,” Duquette said. “J.C. Romero, Joel Piniero, Jamie Moyer. Those veteran pitchers can be very helpful. That’s why we have them around. So we’ve got some veterans in the big leagues and we have some in Triple-A.”
That’s what I mean by more than one direction. They’re still trying to build depth, and they’re doing it with veteran castoffs.
Asked about McLouth, Duquette said, “He’s been a quality major league outfielder. Didn’t perform that well for Pittsburgh this year, but he’s only 30 years old and he’s been effective hitting right-handed pitching.”
So what are your thoughts on this recent flurry of moves, which could continue, given all the veterans who keep appearing on the waiver wire? Duquette didn’t sound like he was closing up shop.