Reliever Evan Phillips is the latest Oriole to be given a reset in the minors.
The club optioned Phillips this morning and recalled reliever Jimmy Yacabonis in an exchange of right-handers. Phillips has allowed two earned runs in each of his last three appearances and also let two inherited runners score last night to leave him with a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 innings.
Command has been an issue with Phillips, who’s issued 10 walks and hit three batters. He’s also thrown two wild pitches.
“We want to get Jimmy here, but also we felt like it was a good time for Evan to go down, work on a couple things we talked about with him this morning,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
“Evan came up here and threw the ball great. His last few appearances obviously haven’t gone the way he would have liked them to, and we just felt like he’s a young guy with a huge career ahead of him. I love his stuff. He’s going to be back up here shortly. We just thought it was the right thing to do to is to have him go down, give him a few appearances down there, work in a couple things that we talked about and come back up.”
Fastball velocity isn’t a concern, but that’s not enough to keep him in the majors.
“He was sitting at 96 last night,” Hyde said. “Sitting at 96 and he’s got a good slider and a split and now it’s being able to execute the slider. To be able to get the slider on the plate, off the plate when necessary, be able to locate the fastball to both sides of the plate. It’s really the theme for a lot of our guys.
“Understand how to get a good major league hitter out. You’ve got to be able to throw your off-speed behind in the count, you’ve got to be able to be unpredictable, be able to throw your off-speed on the plate when you want to and underneath the zone when you want to. As well as being able to locate your fastball up up, down and away when you need it. So I think we’re still in a growing process with a lot of our guys and Evan is a part of that.
“Evan’s going to be a back end bullpen guy, but right now we just feel like the right thing to do is to get some appearances down in Triple-A and come back up.”
Phillips broke into the majors with the Braves last summer, making four appearances before coming to the Orioles in a deadline trade. The 24-year-old Salisbury, Md., native has a resume consisting of only 20 games.
“He’s just starting his major league career,” Hyde said. “He’s got the stuff. I love his mentality. He’s a confident guy. I think now it’s just being able to execute pitches against really good major league hitters consistently.
“If you look at the veteran bullpen guys that we face, they might have 96-97 (mph) in the tank, but they’re just not living with it down the middle of the plate. They’re able to throw breaking balls to start the count. If it’s a 1-0 count, be able to dump in a breaking ball. Be able to locate their putaway pitches where they want to and not miss middle or not miss on the wrong side of the plate. And that’s for the majority of our pitchers right now.
“When we get into trouble, we just don’t have the learned skill yet to be able to execute pitches in big spots at times, so it’s a learning process for a lot of our guys. A lot of our guys are working hard on it every single day and developing at the major league level and that’s not easy to do on a nightly basis. We’re standing behind them and continuing to work with them.”
Yacabonis has allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings with Norfolk, walking three batters and striking out four. He worked two innings on Thursday and is available today.
The Orioles haven’t revisited the idea of making Yacabonis a starter. He’s staying in the bullpen.
“We haven’t talked about that at all,” Hyde said.
Yacabonis has allowed 11 runs and 18 hits with sevens walks and six strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings with the Orioles. He’s surrendered four home runs.
Outfielder Austin Hays will leave extended spring training in Florida and begin a rehab assignment in the next day or two.
Hays, who was sidelined with a sprained left thumb, will report to one of the lower affiliates and work his way up to Norfolk.
Left-hander Richard Bleier remains at Bowie after tossing a scoreless inning last night. He’s thrown 14 pitches in both appearances on his rehab assignment, which started at Single-A Frederick.
“Bleier came out of his appearance last night, threw the ball well from all reports,” Hyde said. “He’s on track with his rehab and hopefully he’ll be ready in a week to two weeks.”
For the Angels
Tommy La Stella 2B
Mike Trout CF
Shohei Ohtani DH
Albert Pujols 1B
Brian Goodwin LF
Jonathan Lucroy C
Kole Calhoun RF
Zack Cozart SS
David Fletcher 3B
Matt Harvey RHP