Exploring a few Orioles decisions this week

The Orioles finish their 10-game homestand this afternoon and fly to Toronto, returning to division competition that also includes a series in the Bronx.

Let’s start our morning by reading too much or too little into some of the Orioles’ recent decisions.

One of these days we’re gonna get it just right.

Anthony Santander at first base.

It happened in back-to-back games before he was used last night as the designated hitter. Santander hasn't been in right field since Saturday.

The Orioles have toyed with the idea since last summer, when he began taking ground balls at first. This isn’t a sudden development.

They aren’t removing him from the outfield. The Orioles crave positional flexibility the same way I crave salty snacks.

Being able to put Santander at first base creates spots in right field and at designated hitter and makes it easier to rest Ryan Mountcastle. Some people say it also increases his trade value, but then you might be reading too much into it.

Ryan O’Hearn already has been optioned once, and the Orioles would be more comfortable removing their backup first baseman with Santander capable of handling the role. Not saying that’s the intent. Just thinking ahead to those matchup series if the opponent is sending out a bunch of left-handed starters or the Orioles need to call up a middle infielder, for example.

Versatility on the roster opens a bunch of possibilities.

Clearing Santander out of right field leaves it available for Colton Cowser when he’s eventually promoted. As long as we’re reading too much or too little.

Anyway, Santander is going to be moving around more than usual.

Cole Irvin recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.

Irvin returned to the Orioles for three reasons, equaling his number of starts before they optioned him.

They needed a fresh arm after manager Brandon Hyde used five relievers the previous night and had Yennier Cano warming. Mike Baumann and Austin Voth made back-to-back appearances and weren’t available for at least one game and probably two. Irvin was on regular rest Tuesday.

Hyde had only two left-handed relievers, and three is nicer in an eight-man bullpen. Keegan Akin was optioned. Nick Vespi was here and gone in the blink of an eye.

Irvin could provide much-needed length with Voth temporarily on the shelf. Someone has to consume innings if the starter is removed early.

It also helped that Irvin allowed four runs in his last three starts with Norfolk over 20 innings and issued only four walks in his five appearances after the demotion.

Maybe Irvin sticks around as a long reliever while the rotation remains set. Or he could be optioned again soon because Mychal Givens seems about ready for reinstatement from the injured list after retiring all five batterhals he faced Tuesday night at Norfolk.

Givens inherited a bases-loaded, one-out mess from Dillon Tate and stranded the runners. He's throwing a bullpen session at Camden Yards this week and could be activated. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said on the MASN broadcast that Givens is days away.

Tate allowed four runs and six hits in one-third of an inning. He's making at least one more rehab appearance.

Irvin shows up right after the Angels pummel Grayson Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has made eight starts in his major league career. He’s allowed four runs in four of them over 20 2/3 innings, and 23 in the other four over 16 1/3.

Breaking news: He’s a young starter still learning at the major league level and vulnerable to waves of inconsistency. His career isn’t sinking.

Hyde said Rodriguez is making his next start, and it's true - Saturday afternoon in Toronto. Rodriguez isn’t assured of staying in the majors throughout the season, but the Orioles aren’t going to overreact to the Angels game and ignore the four good outings.

He held the Rays to two runs over a career-high 5 2/3 innings on May 9. We supposed to pretend it didn’t happen?

The Orioles will pull Rodriguez from the rotation if he’s thumped in every outing and hurting them. They can’t risk their playoff run, and they have other choices, including Irvin and left-hander DL Hall.   

Bruce Zimmermann, Drew Rom and Spenser Watkins also are on the 40-man roster. The move wouldn’t be that complicated.

It just isn’t necessary at this point. Way too soon.

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