The Orioles spent the morning and part of the afternoon deciding on the corresponding roster move for pitcher Yefry Ramirez, debating the wisdom of removing a reliever and finding themselves undermanned in the bullpen with a rookie making his first major league start. Risky business, for sure.
Left-hander Donnie Hart has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after spending one day with the club. He worked a scoreless inning last night, though he allowed two hits and walked a batter and needed a 9-2 putout to escape harm.
Hart hops back on the shuttle. And the Orioles will keep their collective fingers crossed that they have enough backup for Ramirez.
The Orioles also could have optioned David Hess, since off-days on Thursday and Monday will push back his next start. Or they could have removed a position player and gone with a short bench.
Andrew Cashner underwent his MRI this afternoon to check on his lower back and the results could have impacted the club’s roster move. The Orioles remain optimistic that he’s only going to miss one start and will be on the mound Tuesday night against the Nationals in D.C.
“I know from Brian Ebel, I’ve got a percentage,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I said, ‘What percentage would you give that he’s a pitcher when his turn comes around again?’ And he gave it to me and it was very favorable. But then again, you could find something in an MRI that might make you look at that differently. You also don’t want to be sitting there a couple days before his start, he has a workday and something flares up and you’re back to square one.
“The only thing that’s concerning a little bit is he’s never really had this much, so this is kind of different, so there’s no real something to go on. But I’m hoping that it shows what we think it is and we can make the move according to that.”
Ramirez is expected to rely heavily on his changeup today.
“Athletic guy, converted position player a long time ago,” Showalter said. “Great kid. Smiles easily. If I could ask one thing from the baseball gods today, he’d get the first inning under his belt. I don’t care who you are, it’s a big moment for him. Winning has kind of followed him around in the minor leagues. He seems to figure out a way to get a W next to his name. That’s always an encouraging sign. But it’s the biggest jump in sports from the level he was at to this level, so I’m sure you don’t sneak up on anybody at this level.
“I’m sure the Red Sox have a good idea what he’s going to do. He’s faced a lot of their clubs in the minor leagues when he was with the Yankees. But also, kind of revel in what it must mean to him right now. I’ve spoken to him a little bit. You try not to get too much into him on the day they’re pitching. A lot of different things going on in his life right now that he’s never had happen. I hope he handles it as well as David (Hess) has.”
The big jump plants Ramirez in front of a Red Sox lineup that rates among the most dangerous in baseball, and Mookie Betts has returned to it. Also, left-hander Chris Sale is starting for the opposition.
The Orioles have a lot of faith in Ramirez or there were no other appealing options. Miguel Castro was needed last night in relief.
“You’ve always got choices in life and in baseball and everything you do,” Showalter said. “I would have liked to have had a real solid, deep outing (last night) and maybe stayed away from Castro and maybe brought him or (Jimmy) Yacabonis to back up Miguel, but the opposition doesn’t always cooperate.
“Yefry’s capable of doing this job. I’m as anxious to see how he does, too. The problem is, we all understand the fallout if he doesn’t. It’s a challenge down there.
“Zach (Britton) feels good today. Sore in the right places. Darren (O’Day) feels good today. Sore in the right places. The one thing we’ve got working for us is the off-day tomorrow. We’re all very aware as managers of trying to keep people out of harm’s way, as Dan (Duquette) is. He’s on that, too.”