Hart optioned, Showalter on backup catchers (O’s down 5-1)

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles reduced the competition among left-handed relievers in camp this afternoon by optioning Donnie Hart to Triple-A Norfolk.

Hart allowed three runs and 10 hits in eight innings, with three walks and 11 strikeouts. He appeared in 51 games with the Orioles last summer and was 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.397 WHIP in 43 2/3 innings.

Joely Rodriguez and Josh Edgin are vying for a spot and their chances could be influenced by Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes Jr., who might work out of the bullpen if he fails to win a spot in the rotation. The Orioles have to decide whether to keep him or place him on waivers.

Hart-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgHart’s removal from the camp roster leaves the Orioles with 41 players. Manager Buck Showalter views it as being at 38 because Zach Britton is on the 60-day disabled list and Mark Trumbo and Gabriel Ynoa are headed to the 10-day DL.

Another cut will be made following today’s game against the Mets.

The three competitors for the job of backup catcher remain with the Orioles and Showalter isn’t ready to declare a winner. He can choose between Chance Sisco, Austin Wynns and Andrew Susac.

“We’ve got some good people to pick from and I like where we are with it,” he said. “There’s some guys down below that we like, too. I think there’s really not a bad call to make there. All three of them present something that could potentially be good for us.

“If we had to pick it right now, we could, but I wouldn’t say it’s so clear that nothing’s ever going to change. I know if we broke today the way we’d probably go, but there’s some debate back and forth about it. And not just people here, too. It’s like, whether it’s an Audry Perez or two or three other guys that come up in discussion, trying to talk about the what-ifs, because it’s a very volatile situation.

“Chance got hit with a ball yesterday in the neck and he just got hit with another one during that drill, so he’s trying to work his way around his neck. He’s got one more spot to hit.”

Sisco is batting .360/.429/.600 (9-for-25) with three doubles, one home run, six RBIs, two walks and 10 strikeouts. Wynns is batting .222/.391/.556 (4-for-18) with two home runs, three RBIs, five walks and seven strikeouts. Susac, a late entry after a brief hospital stay caused by a staph infection, is batting .300/.500/.600 (3-for-10) with one home run, four RBIs, three walks and four strikeouts.

Wynns is regarded as the best defensively of the bunch. Asked whether he looks at defense first when making a choice, Showalter replied, “Primarily, but everybody brings something different.

“If you can’t defend and call a game and throw in the big leagues, that part of it ... Let’s face it, you’ve got close to 200 pitches a night and you get four at-bats a night. I mean, that math is pretty easy. You’re really going to impact the game day in and day out as a defender, but that day that you catch, you’ve really got to bring something to the table. ‘OK, we know we’re going to get this tonight from him,’ and really bring that impactful tool.”

Update: Travis d’Arnaud led off the top of the second inning by getting ahead 3-0 in the count and driving a fastball from Dylan Bundy over the center field fence for a 1-0 lead.

Update II: Bundy has allowed four runs in three innings. Brandon Nimmo followed Matt den Dekker’s one-out triple in the third with an RBI single, Reyes was hit by a pitch and both runners scored on d’Arnaud’s two-out double.

Update III: Chris Davis lined an RBI single into right field in the third inning in his second at-bat since returning to the lineup, and the Mets lead the Orioles 4-1. Cedric Mullins led off with another bunt single and stole second base.

Update IV: Bundy is the first Orioles starter to go more than five innings, but he was charged with five runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 and the Orioles trail the Mets 5-1.

Luis Gonzalez let an inherited runner score in the sixth on Amed Rosario’s two-out single that scored Jose Lobaton. Bundy allowed five hits with one walk, six strikeouts, one home run, one wild pitch and two hit batters.

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