ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles have gone through brief portions of the season with closer Zach Britton as their only left-handed reliever. By the time I’m allowed inside their clubhouse this morning at Tropicana Field, they will have a fourth southpaw with Brian Duensing coming off the 60-day disabled list.
It completely changes how a manager works a game. Buck Showalter can use it to his advantage with matchups against the Rays, but he also would prefer teams having to choose 25 players for each series. Others could be swapped out for the next series. Just designate 25.
The sport shouldn’t morph into something so drastically different during a pennant race. But hey, when in Rome ...
(You can take the rest of the “Anchorman” dialogue from here.)
The Orioles must create a spot for Duensing on the 40-man roster. There’s a group of guys on the bubble that includes Odrisamer Despaigne, T.J. McFarland, Dariel Alvarez and Christian Walker. None of them have been recalled this month.
Double-A Bowie left-hander Chris Lee could be moved to the 60-day disabled list, but he’s has to be activated first and put on the major league DL. He’d receive major league pay and his clock would start and it’s just not going to happen.
* Ashur Tolliver was lost to the Angels on a waiver claim after the Orioles designated him on Wednesday to create a 40-man spot for lefty Kyle Lobstein, who subsequently was designated and outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. I’ve heard that multiple teams put in claims and the Angels got him after the three ahead of them passed.
Tolliver, 28, is a late-blooming left-hander with a fastball that climbs in the mid-90s. He’s behind Hart on the specialist scale, but still seemed like a guy worth keeping or at least attempting to trade, given the interest in him. But I don’t know all the inner-workings here.
I do know that scouts from outside the organization wondered why Tolliver was exposed to waivers. He may be nothing more than organizational filler or he comes back to haunt the Orioles. It would be boring if we already knew the outcome.
* Hart hasn’t allowed a run in his first 12 major league appearances over 11 1/3 innings and left-handers are 5-for-27 against him. He faced Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury yesterday in the ninth inning and induced a fly ball and grounder, the former allowing an inherited runner to score.
“Like I said from the get-go, I’m not sure about the rest of it, but this guy’s not scared,” Showalter said. “He’s going to attack hitters. He knows who he is, he knows who he isn’t. He’s going to have some hiccups along the way, just like we all do and they do, but one of the reasons why we had some attraction to him - spent really the last two years watching this kid - is it’s a guy who threw it over and a guy you could trust.”
Hart is a serious candidate to be named the Orioles minor league Pitcher of the Year after posting a 2.72 ERA in 40 appearances at Double-A Bowie.
I suggested Jesus Liranzo, 21, to Baseball America. He posted a 1.05 ERA in 16 relief appearances at Single-A Delmarva, with 46 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings, and has allowed only four earned runs with 20 strikeouts in 18 innings at Double-A Bowie. He’s going to the Arizona Fall League.
You also could make a strong case for left-hander Brian Gonzalez, the third-round pick in 2014 - and the Orioles’ first selection that year - who’s 10-8 with a 2.55 ERA in 26 starts at Delmarva.
Matthew Grimes, the 18th-rounder in 2014 out of Georgia Tech, went 8-4 with a 1.45 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) at Single-A Frederick, but he’s 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA in 11 starts with Bowie.
Catcher Chance Sisco is the heavy favorite to be named minor league Player of the Year.
* Showalter has made it clear that he’d like to get shortstop Paul Janish and reliever Pedro Beato on the expanded roster, but he also understands the challenges because they’re not on the 40-man. They may be difficult omissions.
Beato pitched last night and set the Norfolk record for most appearances in a season with 64. The previous mark of 63 appearances was set by Mark Guerra in 1999 and tied by Beato in 2015.
Beato was tied with former Oriole Preston Guilmet, now pitching at Triple-A Toledo, for the most minor league appearances.
One of the Orioles relievers questioned why Beato is never mentioned as a call-up candidate. He sought a scouting report.
Last night’s report wouldn’t have offered the standard praise. Beato gave up three runs in the eighth inning in Durham to raise his ERA to 2.66.
* Since Showalter broached the subject yesterday, which Oriole would make a good quarterback?
Showalter’s choice depended on the type of offense being run. He nominated shortstop J.J. Hardy as a good fit at Alabama.
The more I think about it, the more I’m intrigued by Jonathan Schoop.
* Orioles designated hitters have combined for 35 home runs this season, a significant amount considering they had 14 last season.
They’re tied with the Red Sox for the most in the majors. David Ortiz accounts for 31 of them.
* Adam Jones singled twice yesterday to move past Paul Blair into sole possession of ninth place on the Orioles’ all-time hits list with 1,427. One Gold Glove center fielder passing another.
“What I say to all this kind of stuff is just, I don’t appreciate it now,” Jones said. “I think I’ll appreciate it later. I think right in the midst of my career, I’m putting my head down and just letting it all come to me. Whatever happens happens while I’m playing.
“I think once I’m done playing, all the accolades that I’ve accumulated, I’ll get a chance to sit down with my family and my kids and be like, ‘This is what I did. I gave it all out there.’ But I think every time it’s mentioned, out of respect I have to think about all the accomplishments that these players have had, especially in this Orioles uniform. Right now, my name is starting to become synonymous with a lot of them and it’s pretty cool, first and foremost what they did and obviously what I’ve been able to accomplish so far.”
Blair won eight Gold Gloves, twice as many as Jones, who leads 5-2 in All-Star Game appearances. Blair has a decided edge in World Series rings.
Blair, who passed away on Dec. 26, 2013 after suffering a heart attack at a charity bowling event in Pikesville, spent 13 of his 17 seasons with the Orioles and retired in 1980.
Jones acknowledges that Blair’s playing days were “way before my time,” but he knows the reputation. It’s pretty hard to be a center fielder in Baltimore and also be oblivious.
Said Jones: “I know one thing about him, he played shallow and he was not afraid to go back on the ball. Same with Mr. Jones.”