The Orioles have signed New Mexico State infielder Tanner Rust, an undrafted free agent whose .375 average this year led the Western Athletic Conference and ranked ninth in the country.
Rust, who’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, had 15 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 54 RBIs this season. He led the Aggies with 54 runs scored and 24 multiple-hit games. His .481 on-base percentage led the league and his 79 hits were third. He had 34 walks and 43 strikeouts in 216 at-bats.
Rust batted .356 in three years at New Mexico State.
Rust made 47 starts behind the plate this season, but the Orioles view him as a corner infielder who is athletic enough to also play the outfield.
Rust, who also was a quarterback and punter on the football team, will join short-season Single-A Aberdeen’s roster.
Manager Buck Showalter explained the decision to recall pitcher Kevin Gausman from Triple-A Norfolk by saying, “We needed an arm today. We’re short in the ‘pen.
“It’s Kevin’s day to pitch. It was his scheduled day, so he was the guy who fit our needs. We would have loved to have left him there, but we had a need and other options weren’t available.”
Freddy Garcia has 72 hours to decide whether to accept being optioned to Norfolk. He’s expected to decline it, at least judging by his comments before leaving the clubhouse. Garcia referred to being on waivers.
“He can stay with us and go to Triple-A or do something else,” Showalter said. “Hoping he stays. He’s done some good things for us. He’s had his challenges. But he came and did as advertised. I wish we had a little more length in the ‘pen today.”
Gausman is a candidate to start on Friday. “He’s one of the guys we’ll consider,” Showalter said.
Showalter said Nolan Reimold agreed that the outfielder needed more at-bats on his injury-rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie. Reimold is 2-for-21 with three RBIs, two walks and eight strikeouts in six games.
“He’s had a long time off and he’s getting a little better,” Showalter said.
Showalter said Wei-Yin Chen “is either going to make one or two starts” on a rehab assignment that begins Saturday.
“If he stays healthy, then he could start as many as two times before the All-Star break and as few as one,” Showalter said. “We’ve got three clubs that are home. He’ll be at Norfolk, Bowie or Frederick. And the next one, if he has to do it again, I think they’re on the road.”
Nothing new to report on Wilson Betemit, who’s hitting in the cage and taking ground balls in Sarasota. “Wilson’s kind of slow. Still the same,” Showalter said.
The reports on Tsuyoshi Wada at Norfolk are more favorable, but he’s not a candidate to start on Friday.
“He’s put together two competitive outings in a row, so that’s good to see,” Showalter said. “Try to keep in mind he’s coming back from a serious surgery, and we’re fortunate that he sees it the same way we do. We trust him and he trusts us that he’s going to know when it’s good enough. I like the way he’s pitched the last couple times out. It’s been more competitive, and talking to some guys down there, he’s featured some pitches that would play up here. We’ll see. Hopefully, he can put a couple more together.”
Former Oriole Mark Reynolds is starting at third base tonight for Cleveland.
The Orioles didn’t pick up the option on Reynolds’ contract or offer him arbitration. He signed a one-year deal with the Indians worth $6 million, plus incentives.
“We would have liked, in a perfect world, to have him back,” Showalter said. “It’s one of those things that are kind of frustrating, but you understand the way a lot of things work. You can do this, but that means you can’t do that. And you can do that, but it means you can’t do this. Mark’s in a good place, with a good organization and a good manager and good teammates. I know our guys liked Mark. He’s a good teammate, a good guy, an easy guy to manage. We’d like to have had him, but it just didn’t work out.”