SAN FRANCISCO – The Orioles added infielder/outfielder Josh Lester to their roster today as bullpen lefty Danny Coulombe went on the bereavement list. O’s manager Brandon Hyde expects Coulombe, who has 2.08 ERA in 26 games, to miss only the final two games of this series with the San Francisco Giants. He should return for the Orioles' series at Milwaukee, which begins Tuesday.
As for adding Lester, Hyde said the schedule of upcoming starters the O’s will be facing helped lead them in his direction to fill that roster spot.
“I'm excited for Josh,” Hyde said today in the visitors' dugout at Oracle Park. “He swung the bat so well in spring training for us, off to a good start in Triple-A. We're running into a string of right-handed starters these next handful of games. With the off-day here in a couple of days, we feel like we're in good shape, bullpen-wise, to be able to add another left-handed bat, and the guy is really swinging the bat well in Triple-A, and we're excited to have him.
“We had a lot of options going into the game yesterday knowing we were going to lose Danny. We had three of four scenarios and we had to see how the game played out last night,” he said of his roster, which for now carries 14 position players and 12 pitchers.
The team moved bullpen right-hander Dillon Tate to the 60-day injured list with a right elbow flexor strain to create room for Lester on the 40-man roster.
But Hyde said that move was less about a health timetable for Tate and more about creating a 40-man spot.
“No change in the rehab schedule (for Tate),” he said.
Lester, 28, has just two games of major league experience, from last September with Detroit. He had a strong spring for the Orioles.
“The opportunity arises sometimes, and I hope Josh takes advantage of it,” said Hyde. “Super excited about him being here. I love those stories, kind of never a top prospect and just hits his way all through the minor leagues, knocks on the door and gets an opportunity. It is giving us a little more versatility, from a bench standpoint, and with all these right-handed starters the chance to give a guy a day off.”
Hyde said he would be comfortable using Lester at both corners in the infield or outfield.
More Lester: Lester, who went 0-for-5 last September in two games for the Tigers, was in the clubhouse before today’s game hoping to get into his third big league game.
He batted .282/.339/.549/.888 in 52 games for Triple-A Norfolk, getting nine doubles, two triples, 14 homers and 50 RBIs. He was second in the International League in RBIs and tied for third in homers.
“Kind of found out something was in the works yesterday,” he said. “Buck (Britton, Norfolk manager) brought me in and took me out of the lineup last night. He was like, ‘Hey, keep your phone on.’ Got the call from him right after the game finding out I was going up.”
He was putting together a big season for the Tides.
“It’s been good, it’s been fun," he said. "We’ve got a good team, good lineup and pitching staff. Always more fun showing up to the ballpark and getting in the box every day when you have a chance to win. Being in the middle of those guys in that lineup has been really fun.”
Was it tough for Lester to keep his intensity and focus even though, as others have experienced at Triple-A this year, he was putting up solid numbers but that call to the majors was not coming?
“Yes and no," he answered. "There are parts of it, for sure, where if you are playing really well and the call doesn’t come, sometimes it can (test one's focus). But we have such a good group of guys down there and we just show up and have fun. We are pretty close to the first-half championship already. It was a daily grind, but we were getting after it with friends and it was fun to show up every day.”
Lester had a strong spring, and spending so much time in major league camp, he said, helps him feel comfortable joining the team now.
He was asked about the mentality of the players in Norfolk, all hoping for that call to join a contending team in Baltimore.
“I think you take it as another year and you are trying to get as good as you can," he said. "Who knows? Things happen every day in the big leagues. I didn’t know yesterday until 10 minutes before the game that I had a chance to come up. You never know when that call is going to come. Just try to stay ready and put up another good season. It’s a daily grind, but you are just one phone call away.”
At Norfolk tonight: In his first start back at Triple-A since being optioned down from Baltimore, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez tonight threw six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit for Norfolk tonight against Gwinnett. He walked five, fanned six and threw 94 pitches.
Outfielder Colton Cowser returned to the Triple-A lineup off the injured list, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs before coming out of the game. The Tides plan to have Cowser ramp back up deliberately, and he may come out of some games early in his "return to play" progression.
For the Giants:
LaMonte Wade 1B
J.D. Davis 3B
Mike Yastrzemski CF
Wilmer Flores DH
Blake Sabol LF
Mitch Haniger RF
Patrick Bailey C
Casey Schmitt 2B
Brandon Crawford SS