Hyde on Kimbrel, optioning Tate, Hays injury and more

The Orioles won’t have closer Craig Kimbrel available tonight, but at least he stays on the active roster.

Kimbrel left yesterday’s game with upper-back tightness after fumbling his second lead in three days. He wasn’t at his locker this afternoon during media clubhouse access, but manager Brandon Hyde said the veteran is “feeling better” and “kind of day-to-day right now.”

“He’s got some general soreness in his back,” Hyde said, “but he’s feeling better.”

Asked whether Kimbrel can avoid the injured list, Hyde said, “I hope so.”

Kimbrel didn’t allow an earned run in 10 consecutive appearances since his April 1 blown save against the Royals in his Orioles debut. He struck out 14 batters without a walk, but issued six free passes in his last four games.

Hyde used Kimbrel every other day beginning April 20. He hadn’t gone back-to-back since April 14-15.

“I don’t think it was workload-related,” Hyde said. “I don’t think that he was overworked. I just think it’s something that just kind of popped up. He was throwing the ball so well. Threw the ball great in Anaheim. Had a tough outing on Friday night and somewhere along the way, on the weekend, the back kind of tightened up on him a little bit. But I don’t think it’s workload-related.”

Dillon Tate was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to create room for left-hander Cionel Pérez, who returned after two appearances on his injury rehab assignment. Pérez went 1 1/3 innings on Saturday and should be available tonight.

Tate didn’t allow a run in nine of his last 10 appearances and left with a 2.84 ERA in 12 2/3 innings. He’s a victim of his flexibility, among the few relievers on the team with minor league options.

Yenner Cano and Keegan Akin are the only other pitchers in the bullpen who can be sent down without having to clear waivers first.

“We have to make a move for Cionel and, unfortunately … Dillon’s been pitching better, too,” Hyde said. “Yesterday was some of his better stuff. It’s just kind of where we are and I would expect to see him back up here real soon.

“It’s nothing that he did or didn’t do to get optioned down. He’s throwing the ball well. But this is where we are right now.”

Tate pitched on back-to-back days and probably wouldn’t have been available for at least the first half of the four-game series against the Yankees.

Bullpen inconsistencies have tested Hyde’s patience this season.

“We’re going to go through periods of this,” he said. “We were outstanding the last two years and that’s kind of not normal year after year to be that consistent and that good. But right now we’re still kind of finding our way. Taking a look at some guys. We’re having a tough time finishing innings at times. But some guys are throwing the ball well, too.

“Hopefully, Cionel can help us there. He’s been a huge part of our bullpen the last couple years and pitched really, really well for us. Hopefully, he can give us maybe a little bit of a boost down there.”

Pérez allowed one run in his 2 1/3 rehab innings.

“I felt much better in the second one,” he said via interpreter Brandon Quinones. “In my first outing I was still trying to test my body’s limit and see how far I could go, but in that second one I felt a lot more confident, I felt a lot better.”

More roster moves are on the horizon with Kyle Bradish and John Means back in Baltimore and no longer on rehab assignments.

“Looking at later this week,” Hyde said.

Akin could be vulnerable because of his available option. Yohan Ramírez is trying to hold onto his spot. More tough decisions are looming.

Meanwhile, outfielder Austin Hays remains on the injured list with a calf strain.

“He’s doing better,” Hyde said. “He’s progressing. He’s still got a calf strain, hasn’t done much physical activity yet, but he’s starting to and he’s doing better.”

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