Waiting for the next reliever to join the Orioles

With the Orioles coming upon the second open date on their schedule, I feel supremely confident that their streak of roster moves will end at five days in a row.

Unless, of course, they decide to announce the corresponding move for pitcher Yefry Ramirez, optioned last night to Triple-A Norfolk, instead of waiting until Friday.

So much for supremely confident.

I was blindsided yesterday by the decision to recall utility infielder Engelb Vielma, but it made sense considering that Hunter Harvey needs to pitch. The brief stay in the majors was nice, but it was born out of necessity with the bullpen depleted and manager Buck Showalter wanting right-handed relief.

Hunter Harvey throws black.pngHarvey will start Saturday for Double-A Bowie in Harrisburg, his Eastern League debut likely to last only two innings instead of three due to the layoff. Get the kid in a normal routine and watch him return to the Orioles later this summer.

Ramirez returns to Norfolk’s rotation while the Orioles are in Boston. How else were they going to make room for a much-needed second left-handed reliever?

Ramirez said yesterday that he was surprised by his promotion. Again, born out of necessity with the club no longer able to carry Rule 5 left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. and a fresh arm needed. The Orioles sifted through their 40-man roster again and found Ramirez, who wasn’t available on the day that Harvey was chosen.

Four left-handers were used in relief yesterday in Norfolk’s 11-inning win over Charlotte. Andrew Faulker threw 31 pitches in two innings, Tanner Scott 34 in two, Donnie Hart 36 in two and Jason Gurka seven while recording the save.

Scott and Hart are on the 40-man roster, though it isn’t a priority because the Orioles have an open spot with Nestor Cortes Jr. being designated for assignment. Scott can’t be recalled until he’s been down for 10 days or he’s replacing an injured player, so he’s removed from the Boston equation.

Scott’s outing is worth mentioning because he struck out three batters and walked none in two scoreless innings and threw 28 of 34 pitches for strikes.

Hart, trying to regain his favorable status with the Orioles, struck out four batters and didn’t allow a hit. He walked one.

Non-roster left-handers Josh Edgin and Joely Rodriguez are possibilities to join the Orioles on Friday unless they’re used tonight in Syracuse.

Rodriguez was outstanding in spring training, but he’s off to a slow start with the Tides, allowing two runs and three hits and walking three batters in 2 2/3 innings. He hasn’t pitched since Monday.

Edgin, who also impressed in camp and brings a track record with the Mets, has tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings in two appearances. He’s allowed two hits, walked one and struck out four. His most recent appearance was Tuesday night.

As the flurry of bullpen moves continues, the arrangement is taking on a more normal appearance. Seven relievers, with five of them right-handed. And Pedro Araujo is the only Rule 5 pick in the bunch.

Showalter is glad to have the bullpen settled following the marathon games in New York. Being off today is a bonus. Having starters the last three nights go six or more innings was imperative.

“Especially with an off-day we’re back on our feet,” he said. “I’m going to check, we kind of pushed the limit with Darren (O’Day), as far as I wanted to go with him. So most everybody should be available, especially the pitcher we’ll be bringing up (today).”

Asked to compare managing a bullpen without closer Zach Britton to previous years, Showalter replied, “It’s a lot easier the other way.”

“Fortunately, we have a lot of people down in our bullpen who aren’t walking around with egos and need to be anointed this or that or whatever,” he added. “I’m not going to have those guys in the league leaders. We’re very proud that those guys aren’t in the league leaders every year, but they’re also effective and healthy.

“Zach allows you to have that thing that allows you to attack the eight innings in a certain way. We don’t ever take for granted the ninth inning, but I think he makes everybody else better, as far as the consistency. When Zach’s here, the phone rings and nobody has to answer it. They know the situation. We talk to them about their rest and who’s pitching and not pitching. They don’t even have to answer the phone. But with Zach not here, they have to answer the phone and see what’s up. It’s a lot easier.”

Britton continues to move around as if he never had the Achilles surgery, a credit to Dr. Neal ElAttrache, head athletic trainer Brian Ebel and the left-hander’s high tolerance for Achilles procedures. Who knew that he had that skill, too?

He ditched the protective boot a while ago. He jogs without it. And he’s nearing the point where he’ll step on a mound without it and begin to throw.

Being on the 60-day disabled list allows Britton to return on May 28. It used to seem preposterous. No one is conceding it now, but of course, the process won’t be rushed.

“I think he’s going to take a while as far as, he’s not going to just pitch twice and say, ‘I’m ready to go,’” Showalter said. “We talk about that 60-day DL date, May 28, not that I know exactly what day it is. We’re counting the rehab starts and stuff and we’re hoping that shortly thereafter he’s ready.”

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