Showalter on possible roster move and Steve Johnson

MINNEAPOLIS - The Orioles appear to be leaning toward making a roster move that would add a reliever for Sunday afternoon’s game against the Minnesota Twins.

“We’re looking at it,” said manager Buck Showalter following tonight’s 8-5 loss to the Twins.

Showalter needed Troy Patton to go two innings in relief of Steve Johnson, who allowed six runs and seven hits in four innings on a cold and windy night at Target Field. Brian Matusz and Pedro Strop each tossed a scoreless inning.

The Orioles could use a long reliever in case Wei-Yin Chen gets knocked out early on Sunday.

“Obviously, we don’t have any length,” Showalter said. “Really didn’t have any tonight. I thought I could take Troy two and that was about it. We really don’t have any tomorrow. Where Tommy (Hunter) is concerned, I’m not sure where we’re going to be there. We’re not going to be short. I can tell you that. We’re not going to assume anything with Wei-Yin, especially with the conditions that we’re playing in. We’re considering it.”

The preference would be to bring up a right-hander from Triple-A Norfolk, since Chen is a lefty.

“In a perfect world because of the left-handed starter, but they’ll probably have two or three left-handed hitters in there tomorrow. But there may not be a perfect world,” Showalter said.

“We’ll wait and see how a couple guys are health-wise, too. We looked at their game today and who they had to use. We’ve got two options. We had a couple calls in in the fourth inning when Stevie came out. I wanted to check on the health of one guy, and some other things before we try to make a decision.

“There’s a 5:30 flight, gets in at 10:30. If we make it, that’s what he’ll be on.”

The Orioles could option Johnson to make room on the 25-man roster. They have two off-days next week and don’t need five starters.

Johnson struck out three batters in the first two innings, but he allowed two runs in the third and four in the fourth.

“He started off really well,” Showalter said. “It’s a raw night. I just don’t think he had a really good feel for his breaking ball. It was a tough night to pitch, but he won’t use that as an excuse. He’s capable of better. And he showed us what he’s capable of. He just couldn’t maintain it.

“It’s a challenge for everybody. It’s tough to get a feel. Balls were slick. It doesn’t always show up in base on balls, either. It shows up being wild in the strike zone. You’re trying to go in. You don’t have a good feel for the changeup, and he elevated it.

“(Joe) Mauer’s pretty special. We shouldn’t feel like he’s picking on us. He’s a pretty good hitter, period, to everybody. Stevie came out hot and ready to go and started out really well, but he just couldn’t maintain it.”

There were instances where Johnson looked like the same pitcher who won all four decisions as a rookie last season.

“You saw the first two innings, same type of approach,” Showalter said. “He’s got some late life on his fastball, and he and Matt (Wieters) have a good feel when guys are starting to cheat. You slow them down. The curveball wasn’t really there like it normally is and has been in his last start or two down below. He got some outs with the changeup, but then he elevated some, too, that hurt him.”

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