Notes on Lucas, Karns, Trumbo, Villar and more (O’s up 7-6)

The Orioles needed a fresh bullpen arm tonight to begin a four-game series against the Yankees and they brought Josh Lucas to the majors for the second time this season.

His contract has been selected again from Triple-A Norfolk and he’s available to pitch in relief.

Lucas has made only four appearances with the Tides since the Orioles designated him for assignment on April 22.

“Just trying to be more repeatable, just get my mechanics right,” he said. “Tinkered with a couple things here and there. Just try to find what’s comfortable and once I found it try to get in a groove whenever I did pitch.”

Lucas was a bit surprised to rejoin the Orioles after they passed him through waivers. He assumed that a pitcher on the 40-man roster would have the advantage.

“Just because I didn’t know what was going on, what the situation was going to be, especially coming back this time,” he said. “Tanner (Scott) being down there and Evan (Phillips) being down there, I figured they’d be the first option. But glad to be back.”

Being designated for assignment isn’t uncharted territory for Lucas.

“Been there before,” he said. “Happened with St. Louis, happened with Oakland. Just go through the motions with it and see what happens. Happy to be back. I like it here. Enjoy everything around here. Enjoy the guys, enjoy the atmosphere, the rebuild and everything like that.”

The Orioles optioned Yefry Ramirez to Norfolk following yesterday’s game.

“We need somebody to throw out of the bullpen,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He didn’t throw yesterday, he threw the day before, but fairly limited and he’ll be available to pitch for us tonight if need be.”

The Orioles created a spot on the 40-man roster by transferring reliever Nate Karns to the 60-day injured list. Karns has been on the IL retroactive to April 9 with a right forearm strain. An MRI didn’t reveal any structural damage and he received an injection for the inflammation.

“He wasn’t going to come back within the 60, so we had that roster spot open,” Hyde said. “It shouldn’t be too much longer after that, but we just didn’t see him coming back before then.”

Hyde is waiting to get an extended look at a healthy Karns, who made four appearances - two as the opener - and pitched 5 1/3 innings before the injury.

“I felt like we saw some in spring training and the first 10 days or so of the season,” Hyde said. “We’ll see. I’m not really sure.

“I want to believe he’s going to come back healthy. I think we’re going to be careful through his rehab process and watch the rehab assignment closely and watch his appearances down in the minor leagues before he comes up here pretty closely and hopefully he’s the guy that we saw in spring training and was able to help us.”

davis-trumbo-white-fist-bump.jpgMark Trumbo played in another extended spring training game today in Sarasota after being hit twice in the back Friday afternoon in his debut.

“He’s progressing, doing well,” Hyde said. “He’s going to start playing in the field. His leg feels good and now it’s just about getting in baseball shape and getting at-bats and playing some defense a little bit to kind of see where his leg is and off on a rehab assignment here pretty soon.”

Trumbo is in the final year of his contract and the Orioles hoped to use him as a trade chip at the deadline, but September knee surgery has kept him away from the club. They could use his bat in the middle of the lineup to aid their offense and also create a potential return for him if there’s an interested team.

The Orioles would need to figure out how to fit him on the roster, especially if sticking with a three-man bench.

“I think I’ve been saying it all along that I just want to do what’s best for Mark,” Hyde said. “We tried it out in spring training a little bit. It was obvious that he wasn’t ready, he needed more time. Collaborated on that, he agreed with it. Taking our time with his rehab. Remember, he’s coming back from a tricky injury that guys that have had it are still struggling, so we’re going to be as patient as possible with him and just want to do what’s best for him.

“If we feel like and he feels like he’s ready to help out our club and potentially not only DH but maybe play first or an outfield spot some nights, then that would be great. I don’t want to have to rush him in any way, I don’t want to put him in a bad spot in any way. I want him to have success and I want him to feel like he’s ready when he gets here. So that’s going to be a big conversation as we get closer to seeing how he plays on his rehab assignment.

“We know that he’s going to take pro big league at-bats and we could definitely use that. No doubt. But at the same time, it’s what’s best for him and that’s what we’ll focus on.”

Infielder Jonathan Villar is getting a rest day after being in the lineup for the first 46 games. He hit a three-run homer Friday night in Cleveland, but he has only eight hits in his last 46 at-bats since homering off Boston’s Josh Smith on May 6. He’s struck out 16 times.

“Just want to give him a breather,” Hyde said. “I don’t think he’s taking the at-bats that he would like and I just want to give him a blow.”

Hanser Alberto gets the chance to bat leadoff tonight for only the second time in his career.

“I just like the way Hanser’s swinging the bat against left-handers and hoping that Hanser can give us some energy at the top of the lineup,” Hyde said.

“You know he’s going to swing, he’s going to be aggressive.”

Hyde stated in spring training that he’d like his best four hitters to occupy the top four spots in the lineup, but slumping players make it a challenge. Renato Núñez is batting cleanup due to his past success against J.A. Happ, but he’s 5-for-52 with one walk and 16 strikeouts this month and 6-for-68 since April 24. Dwight Smith Jr., batting second, is 3-for-25 since May 12.

“I’d like to be a little more consistent with how we do that, but it’s kind of where we’re at, too,” Hyde said.

“It’s not like we have a ton of veteran at-bats, so for the most part it’s been Villar, Smitty, (Trey) Mancini and CD (Chris Davis) recently, Rio (Ruiz) a little bit earlier. Depending on the matchup of the pitcher. Noonie in there against left-handers, earlier some right-handers when he’s swinging the bat well. So just trying to that particular night get who I thought our best for guys against that particular pitcher were. Try to get them the most at-bats.

“That makes it challenging when guys aren’t swinging the bat the way ... Every hitter goes through it. Every guy has tough moments through the season and you try to stick with him, try to find the right time to rest guys or to bump guys down or bump guys up the lineup. You do your best to try to get the guys that you think have the best opportunity against that starter the most at-bats and in our situation sometimes it’s challenging, but we’re doing the best we can.”

Stevie Wilkerson keeps playing center field and Hyde keeps finding components of his game and personality that are pleasing.

“He’s a confident dude that believes in himself and I think that goes a long way,” Hyde said.

“I think if you’ve had a conversation with Stevie, he likes to go third-person, right? So anybody that likes to go third person kind of digs himself a little bit. I’m into it. I love it. I think that really helps in the baseball world.

“He also gives himself his own nicknames, which I think is a cocky attitude which I’m into. I think it plays here. Great guy. He’s playing hard.”

The Yankees had to stop taking batting practice this afternoon because of rain that forced the grounds crew to unroll the tarp. But the shower already has passed.

Update: The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on doubles by Alberto and Mancini and a single by Pedro Severino.

Update II: Gleyber Torres homered off Andrew Cashner in the second inning to reduce the lead to 2-1.

Update III: Alberto and Núñez homered in the third inning to give the Orioles a 4-1 lead.

Update IV: Richie Martin doubled with two outs in the fourth and scored on Alberto’s single for a 5-1 lead. Alberto stole second base and came home on Smith’s single, knocking J.A. Happ out of the game.

Update V: The Yankees scored twice in the top of the sixth on Gary Sánchez’s RBI single and Kendrys Morales’ ground ball, but the Orioles took a 7-3 lead in the bottom half on Mancini’s sacrifice fly after Smith’s first career triple.

Update VI: Branden Kline was charged with two runs in the seventh, one unearned after Smith’s throwing error, and the Orioles’ lead is down to 7-5.

Update VII: Torres homered off Mychal Givens in the eighth to cut the lead to 7-6.

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