This, that and the other

The Orioles’ decision yesterday to transfer Zach Britton to the 60-day disabled list caused a bit of a stir among fans who assumed that the closer’s return had been pushed back.

Not true.

Britton is eligible to come off the disabled list on July 4. He’s always been a candidate for the 60-day. Manager Buck Showalter already dismissed July 1 as a possible return date.

Zach-Britton_Sidebar.gifThe Orioles could have Britton back in their bullpen as soon as he’s eligible, depending on whether he needs to remain on his injury rehab assignment. It began last night with a scoreless inning at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.

Britton will report to low Single-A Delmarva for two appearances, then head to Double-A Bowie. And as I’ve written, there’s some wiggle room for Britton if he isn’t ready.

The 40-man roster remains full, and while there are a few players clearly on the bubble, the Orioles made the logical move yesterday. They already put Rule 5 outfielder Anthony Santander on the 60-day. Britton was next man up.

* I wrote yesterday that the Orioles will promote outfielder Austin Hays, their third-round pick last year, from Single-A Frederick to Bowie after the break. He’s moving rapidly through the system and is one of the top prospects in the organization.

The Orioles believe Hays can play center field or right field at a high level. They love his arm and athleticism, along with a bat that produced a 328/.364/.592 slash line with 15 doubles, three triples, 16 home runs and 41 RBIs in 64 games before last night.

Hays was named the Carolina League’s Player of the Week for the third time.

I’ve been asked about shortstop Ryan Mountcastle. I’m told that the Orioles intend to keep him at Frederick past the break, but he eventually could join Hays at Bowie. He’s still working on the defensive side of his game. The bat is exceptional.

* One of the advantages of having Welington Castillo rehab at Bowie was he could provide a scouting report on pitching prospect Lucas Long, who’s 5-2 with a 1.68 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 17 games (three starts) over 59 innings. Castillo had such high praise for Long, a 24th-round pick in 2014 out of the University of San Diego, that Baysox manager Gary Kendall made certain that Showalter heard it directly from his catcher.

“We were trying to think about whether (Castillo) was going to go down or not and I looked at who was going to be pitching,” Showalter said. “A guy with really good command. Gary was talking and he said, ‘Hey, be sure to ask Casi what he thought about Long,’ because he’s really pitching well this year. Really throwing well.

“I watched the game (on video), about four innings of it. Dual purpose, to look at Casi and Long. Good, hard sinker. Great command. Can spin the ball for a strike. Added a cutter this year. I think that’s what’s elevated him to a new level.”

* It’s becoming a common occurrence for Showalter to begin making massive substitutions late in games, or as many as his roster allows. Deficits have been large and Showalter has tried to use them to rest his veterans.

With the Indians leading by double digits on Monday, Showalter inserted David Washington into right field, Joey Rickard into center, Paul Janish at shortstop and Caleb Joseph behind the plate. He moved Rubén Tejada from shortstop to third base.

The Orioles previously had a short bench while Manny Machado was day-to-day with a sore left wrist and hand. The maneuvering became such a challenge that Showalter, for the briefest of moments, thought about putting reliever Mychal Givens at shortstop.

Givens was drafted at the position before converting to reliever. But the idea quickly went away, with Showalter not wanting to risk an injury.

* Tejada is getting a shot at the shortstop job while J.J. Hardy is on the disabled list. The pressure doesn’t seem to be getting to him.

“I have to enjoy it and play hard, do the good things out there and focus all the time, concentrate all the time,” Tejada said yesterday while sitting at his locker.

“I’ve had a couple days here and learned a little bit about the organization, about the infield here. How they work and how they prepare and everything.”

Asked for his greatest strength, Tejada replied, “Work and concentrate. That’s what I do to help the team to win.”

* The Orioles appear to have ended the Pedro Álvarez outfield experiment earlier this month, as reported by David Hall of The Virginian-Pilot. Álvarez has been playing first base and serving as the designated hitter with Triple-A Norfolk.

Álvarez never got comfortable at his new position, and a misplay on June 4 cost the Tides a game in his last appearance in right. Maybe it was the last straw.

Álvarez went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts last night as the first baseman to lower his average to .210.

* In case anyone is wondering what happened to Norfolk left-hander Lucas Luetge, he’s on the disabled list with a sprained elbow. He’s avoided surgery, at least for now.

Luetge was the lefty specialist signed on June 3 to a minor league contract. He appeared in four games with the Tides and allowed two runs in four innings.

Left-handers hit .209 against Luetge in parts of four major league seasons with the Mariners. Right-handers hit .299.

Luetge was holding left-handers to a .225 average at Triple-A Louisville before the Reds released him on June 1, and right-handers were hitting .347.

The Orioles are giving Donnie Hart another shot after his four scoreless appearances with Norfolk. Luetge may have entered the discussion if healthy.

* Another Norfolk left-hander, Andrew Faulkner, could get a shot. The reports on him are really good and he’s definitely on the Orioles’ radar.

The Orioles acquired Faulkner from the Rangers on April 6 for a player to be named later or cash and released Dariel Álvarez. They later re-signed Álvarez, who underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.

Faulkner made his major league debut on Aug. 31, 2015 in San Diego and appeared in 20 games with the Rangers as a reliever over the past two seasons. He allowed eight earned runs (10 total) and 16 hits in 16 1/3 innings, with seven walks, 11 strikeouts and five home runs.

Left-handers are 5-for-30 (.167) against Faulkner, and right-handers are 11-for-35 (.314) with five home runs.

* Kevin Gausman is trying tonight to bring down a 6.60 ERA and 1.920 WHIP that he’s accumulated in 15 starts. He’s allowed 107 hits in 75 innings.

Gausman is 2-1 with a 1.72 ERA in three career games (two starts) versus the Indians. He’s allowed three runs and nine hits in 15 2/3 innings, with nine walks and 12 strikeouts.

The current Indians are 10-for-52 (.192) against Gausman. Edwin Encarnacion is 1-for-16 with a home run and five strikeouts. Carlos Santana is 2-for-4 with two doubles and three walks.

Carlos Carrasco is 7-3 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.008 WHIP in 13 starts. He’s allowed 60 hits in 81 1/3 innings.

Right-handers are batting .199 against Carrasco, and left-handers are hitting .220.

Carrasco is 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA in seven road starts, with a 0.939 WHIP in 43 2/3 innings. He’s allowed two earns or fewer in three of his last four starts.

Carrasco is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.053 WHIP in four career games (three starts) against the Orioles in 19 innings. He’s allowed three runs and six hits in eight innings in two games (one start) at Camden Yards.

Adam Jones is 1-for-9 against Carrasco. Machado is 2-for-3.

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