Manager Buck Showalter hasn’t named a replacement for Tommy Hunter in the Orioles’ rotation. He told reporters today that Jason Berken is a possibility. The club could call up a starter from the minors. That decision is pending.
Hunter must stay with Triple-A Norfolk for a minimum of 10 days unless he’s recalled to replace an injured player.
To recap: Hunter and Ronny Paulino were optioned to Norfolk. Berken was recalled, and Stu Pomeranz had his contract purchased. The Orioles have a three-man bench.
The Orioles will transfer left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Pomeranz on the 40-man roster.
Paulino would have been out of options if he didn’t grant the Orioles permission to send him down without passing him through waivers as part of his minor league deal.
Showalter wants Paulino catching every day at Norfolk after the veteran missed a significant portion of spring training because of visa issues, and he wants Hunter to work on his command and get back to Baltimore as soon as possible.
“Obviously, it’s a byproduct of yesterday,” Showalter said, referring to the 17-inning game in Boston. “Sent some people out. We’d rather not, but we need some arms here. Jason and Stu were best equipped to give us some innings. Of course, Texas will have a lot to do with whether it’s inning or innings or thirds or whatever. But they’re physically capable. We explored all the options and tried not to disrupt too much.
“If we didn’t have yesterday, we probably wouldn’t have done this. Understand that Tommy had a slight oblique, which he’s 100 percent back from. He had the flu that everybody had. He had an ingrown toenail. So he went about two weeks without being able to do some of his strength stuff. I’m hoping this period, however long it is - obviously he’s got to stay down there 10 days barring an injury - I’m hoping he can take a breath and get back into the routine he was in when he’s been as strong as he’s been in his whole career. We saw early in the year how well he pitched.
“I get to see the work these guys do between starts, and when you take that routine away from them, it’s a challenge. Tommy did a great job this off-season taking care of some things that challenged him. I look to see Tommy really getting back on track down there with one or two starts. We’ll see where it takes us. I didn’t make any promises or anything. Tommy knows it’s in his court.”
Hunter took the demotion in stride.
“It’s pretty much business,” he said. “It is what it is. You’ve got to get rid of somebody. They called up two people and I’m the guy to go.
“I’ve got to be able to throw strikes in the bottom of the zone. We’ll see what happens. I’ll go down there and continue to pitch and see where it takes me.”
Down on the farm, Single-A Frederick left-hander Nate Moreau has retired.
Keys left-hander Andy Loomis has joined Norfolk.