Brandon Hyde is back in the manager’s office this morning, marked absent for only one day. He didn’t need to bring a note from home. He had a valid excuse.
The responsibility of knowing when to remove a starter and which relievers can be trusted to get the last outs falls again in his lap.
The lack of a more veteran presence in the bullpen has been an issue for the Orioles, though certainly not an uncommon one in a rebuilding situation. They certainly could use Nate Karns, a strikeout pitcher capable of giving them multiple innings when healthy.
There’s the rub. Karns was limited to nine appearances in 2017, missed the 2018 season and currently resides on the 60-day injured list with a right forearm strain after totaling 5 1/3 innings with the Orioles. But he’s moving closer to a return.
Karns will be in Sarasota this week while the Orioles are in Texas to play the Rangers and Astros. He’s been throwing “light off the mound” recently and will progress to a more strenuous schedule.
“I’ll go down there, build up strength, throw to some hitters, get in a simulated game and then get back up here to knock out some minor league rehab starts or appearances or whatever. And then get activated after all that’s accomplished,” he said.
“That’s where we’re at right now.”
Karns is expected to board a flight later today. He can pitch in extended spring training or simulated games because the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League season doesn’t start until June 24.
“Whatever is available down there, I’ll try to sneak in and get some good build up, work on my pitches, get ready for a game situation and come back up here and get into the higher affiliates,” he said. “Accomplish that, feel good and get activated. That’s the plan.”
Karns made four appearances with the Orioles before discomfort in the forearm caused him to be shut down. He was pulled from an injury rehab assignment after two games, received an injection to reduce inflammation and waited until receiving clearance to begin throwing.
The Orioles moved Karns to the 60-day IL on May 20 to make room for reliever Josh Lucas on the 40-man roster.
“Physically I’m feeling good,” Karns said, “so we’re going to get down there and get to work and get back up here as fast as I can.”
Hyde will appreciate it. And a good, healthy stretch from Karns could enable to Orioles to find a trade partner later in the summer.
Acting manager Tim Cossins made his first bullpen move yesterday with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth. Miguel Castro inherited the mess and let all three runners score.
David Hess’ ERA rose to 7.36. Castro’s ERA fell to 6.14 with no runs charged to him in three innings.
Good day for Castro, bad day or somewhere in between?