Each break in the Orioles’ schedule gives the bullpen a chance to settle down. The phone doesn’t ring. The revolving door doesn’t spin.
It’s the calm before the next storm.
Keeping track of the changes is becoming harder to do. Especially while I vacationed in Charleston, S.C., with limited access to the West Coast reports.
(Want to test the strength of your relationship? Keep checking your phone during dinner and other activities.)
I saw Tanner Scott sitting at his Camden Yards locker Tuesday and almost raced out of the clubhouse to tweet it. Until I was reminded that the Orioles recalled him in Seattle.
Branden Kline also is back, the shuttle becoming his second vehicle, too.
The Orioles selected Matt Wotherspoon’s contract twice this season and I still hadn’t met him because I wasn’t in Toronto or Seattle. We made eye contact Tuesday, I glanced at the nameplate above his locker and said hello.
His stay again was brief, with the Orioles optioning him after yesterday’s game.
Evan Phillips was recalled and optioned on the same day. Paul Fry was optioned, but he returned yesterday with Josh Rogers placed on the injured list and expected to undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
Manager Brandon Hyde took the job in December and began the process of getting to know his players. He’s figuring out which relievers he can trust, which offer tantalizing potential and which are unable to stop the bleeding and only deepen the wound.
“I didn’t know what we had,” he said. “I think this is what this year is about is finding out what we have. I knew we had a few guys who had been here a few years - (Richard) Bleier for a few years in the big leagues and Miggy (Miguel Castro) for a few years and Mike (Givens) for a handful of years. But besides that it was a lot of guys who were really, really inexperienced and didn’t have a lot of major league innings.
“Some guys have good arms that you would hope it’s time to break through, but I really didn’t know. And I think I’ve said it before, this is what this year is about, a lot about finding out about guys that we’re going to move forward with, guys that we feel are going to establish themselves as major league players and we’re taking our lumps along the way because of it and it is what it is.”
Hyde understood that the gig required a tremendous amount of patience, but it still can be stretched to its limits. The latest example yesterday included two home runs allowed by Shawn Armstrong and one by Scott.
The bullpen’s 6.33 ERA ranks last in the majors.
“You would hope that guys would step up and take this rare opportunity that a lot of these guys are having. You wish they would run with it,” Hyde said.
“It’s not from a lack of work or lack of effort or lack of care or anything. It’s just sometimes it doesn’t happen and we still have a second half to go and there are a lot of innings for these guys to prove themselves. You hope they run with it.”
Fry became a valuable lefty last season but was optioned after his ERA grew to 4.85. He allowed seven earned runs and 10 total this month.
“It was just a consistency thing,” he said yesterday. “I had been having some tough outings as of late, so for me I kind of expected it because of the way I was performing. So I wasn’t shocked by it, but it was a wakeup call kind of thing. Now I’ve just got to get back to being me and go from there.”
Fry made one appearance with the Tides and surrendered four runs in one inning. Two days later he was back in Baltimore.
“Didn’t really have the best results, but it was something where I was working on some things and trying to get back to myself,” he said.
“Strike one, quick counts, attacking hitters and trusting my stuff and not picking corners and being full count to everybody and leadoff walks. Those types of things.”
Castro is out of options and remains a huge tease. Hyde is the latest to see the best and worst and wonder how it happens, as if someone flips a switch.
“One night it’s 99 mph sinkers that are ... yeah. It’s hard,” Hyde said.
“It’s such a great arm. The stuff is obviously there and some nights he works on top of the baseball and drives the sinker down, drives the slider down, and some nights he is on the side of the ball and the slider stays in the middle and the heater stays up and over.
“Miggy’s one of the hardest workers on the team. If you come out to the field at 2 o’clock, Miguel Castro is on the field getting in shape, running, doing everything he can and then he does all kinds of side sessions and shadow work to try to repeat. And the nights that his fingers are on top of the ball and drives that ball down, it’s unhittable.”