Wondering about Rogers, Castro’s improvement and more

NEW YORK - The Orioles had become roster move slackers after lots of early activity, but they’re trying to pick up the pace again.

They optioned reliever Evan Phillips on Saturday, recalled him yesterday as the 26th man for the doubleheader, returned him to Triple-A Norfolk after Game 2 and were prepared to recall left-hander Josh Rogers.

Rogers-Gray-Far@SEA-sidebar.jpgRogers was on standby for a flight to Cleveland, where the Orioles begin a four-game series tonight. The Tides are in Toledo, making for a short trip. But it depended on how many relievers were burned in the doubleheader.

The Orioles sent instructions to withhold Rogers from Tuesday’s start for the Tides, keeping him available because of the doubleheader. He could provide length in the bullpen if manager Brandon Hyde had to parade his relievers to the mound.

Branden Kline was the only bullpen move in Game 1, working the last two innings after starter David Hess completed six. Andrew Cashner handled the first six innings in the nightcap and Hyde used Shawn Armstrong for the seventh, Miguel Castro for one batter in the eighth and Paul Fry for two.

Long men Gabriel Ynoa and Yefry Ramirez didn’t have to take off their jackets until they were ready to shower, leaving Rogers’ status uncertain.

Rogers would be a candidate to start Sunday’s series finale against the Indians. Hyde won’t bring back Hess or Cashner on short rest and he’s got Dan Straily, Dylan Bundy and John Means starting the first three games.

(Don’t be thrown off by Straily’s clean-shaven face. The beard is gone, but it’s him.)

Ynoa and Ramirez also are starting candidates, and Hyde could choose an opener and turn it into a bullpen game. How his relievers are used could influence the decision.

It always seems to go back to the bullpen.

* Castro struck out the only batter he faced in the nightcap, and it happened to be Gleyber Torres, who hit three home runs in the doubleheader.

Torres saw two sliders and a 98 mph fastball before swinging through another slider.

Every success for Castro is noteworthy after his earlier struggles. His ERA climbed to 10.80 on April 22 after he was charged with four runs and five hits in two-thirds of an inning, with two walks and three wild pitches, but he hasn’t been scored upon in his last seven appearances, covering 7 2/3 innings.

He’s struck out 10 batters and lowered his ERA to 6.52.

* Joey Rickard has lost at-bats to Stevie Wilkerson, but he played both ends of the doubleheader and collected three hits.

Rickard is 6-for-16 with three doubles, a run, two walks, a hit-by-pitch and two stolen bases in his last five games.

* The series in New York included news that Double-A Bowie reliever Zach Pop needed to undergo Tommy John surgery, a procedure described Tuesday in a club tweet as being “successful.”

The real proof will come later as Pop tries to get back on the mound, but it appeared to go exactly as planned without any complications in the elbow.

The Orioles shut down Pop after one spring appearance because his fastball sat in the low 80s. He can touch 99 mph, but he mentioned how he wasn’t going to rear back and bring his best heater at such an early date.

There was enough concern in the organization to slow-play him, beginning with rest and flat-ground throwing.

The Orioles blamed the drop in velocity on arm “fatigue.” Nothing about the elbow, which seemed fine as Pop allowed only one run in 10 2/3 innings at Double-A Bowie.

We could be talking about two separate issues.

“I have no idea if it’s related or not,” Hyde said. “I was obviously disappointed when I heard that he needed the surgery. It sounds like, talking to our trainers, that it went really well.

“It happens. It’s unfortunate because we think really highly of him. It’s going to be a tough rehab for him. It’s one that a lot of guys have done with a lot of success. Hopefully, we’ll see him at some point next year.”

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