Rasmus trying to remove himself from early slump

NEW YORK - The Triple-A Norfolk Tides open their season tonight after unveiling their official roster, which currently includes outfielders Joey Rickard, Alex Presley, Jaycob Brugman and DJ Stewart.

Rickard is the only right-handed hitter in the group. The Orioles signed Michael Saunders to a minor league deal earlier this week to round out their lefty quartet.

They won’t contemplate a roster move this early in the season, but Colby Rasmus certainly needs to heat up in these frigid temperatures.

Rasmus-Runs-White-Sidebar.jpgSigned to a minor league deal in February to platoon in right field, Rasmus is 2-for-18 after striking out twice last night, grounding out and poking a single into right field. He’s struck out 11 times.

The single came against reliever Chad Green immediately after the right-hander replaced starter Masahiro Tanaka. Rasmus took a slider for a ball and grounded a 95 mph four-seam fastball past first baseman Neil Walker.

It probably felt like a screaming line drive off one of the advertisements plastered on the right field fence.

There’s no shortage of left-handed hitting options on the farm, but again, we’re only seven games into the season. The Orioles aren’t going to give up on Rasmus in the first week of April.

Got to give him time to get into a groove. And if it doesn’t happen, there are alternatives down below.

Asked what he’s seeing from Rasmus, manager Buck Showalter smiled and replied, “I see that he got the single and he’s in a good streak right now.”

“He’s pushing,” Showalter continued. “I’m talking about pushing forward and not keeping his hands back. That clerical thing or whatever you want to call it. But he’s working hard to try to fix it. I see him there at almost midnight the other night in Houston. You know his track record has been there. He’s always been little streaky. But I expect somebody is going to pay down the line.”

Rasmus’ glove attracted the Orioles, who envisioned him as a needed backup in center field, but he served again as the designated hitter last night while Anthony Santander played right. Showalter explained how pinch-hitting for Rasmus with a southpaw on the mound requires using two players - the batter and the defensive replacement. He used Danny Valencia and Craig Gentry as examples.

What we have so far is a left-handed platoon player who isn’t hitting or playing in the field. And he’s probably going to sit in two of the next three games with the Yankees starting CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery.

Rasmus is 4-for-16 with two doubles and five strikeouts against Sonny Gray, who starts Saturday if the weather allows it. The forecast keeps changing, but snow has been mentioned.

Rasmus is 0-for-6 with five strikeouts against Sabathia. And if you’re thinking about late-inning matchups, he’s 0-for-15 with six strikeouts against David Robertson and 0-for-6 with two walks and five strikeouts against Dellin Betances.

I received a bunch of tweets demanding that the Orioles recall Austin Hays and drop Rasmus. Again ... it’s only seven games into the season. And Hays bats from the right side. Same as Gentry. But Hays’ days are coming.

(Would look pretty nice on a T-shirt. Just sayin’ ...)

Let him get some at-bats at Double-A Bowie and perhaps move up to Norfolk, though it’s not a requirement. He can make the jump again from the Eastern League if he’s raking.

Sabathia is making his 42nd career start against the Orioles, his second-highest total after the Rays (45). He’s 19-10 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.213 WHIP in 275 1/3 innings.

Manny Machado is 18-for-57 (.316) against Sabathia with six doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs. Adam Jones has the most at-bats, going 24-for-87 (.276) with four doubles, one triple, five home runs and 15 RBIs. Chris Davis is 11-for-53 (.208) with one home run and 22 strikeouts.

Rickard isn’t any help in this series, but he’s 5-for-11 against Sabathia.

Kevin Gausman will try to bounce back in the same manner as Andrew Cashner. They both surrendered three home runs in their debuts, but Cashner took a one-hit shutout into the sixth last night before Aaron Judge’s solo shot.

Gausman is 7-5 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.353 WHIP in 22 career games (16 starts) against the Yankees and 3-3 with a 4.06 ERA and 1.353 WHIP in 11 games (eight starts) in the Bronx.

Judge is 6-for-12 with a double and three home runs off Gausman.

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