Hyde on Bundy, Núñez, Kline and Trumbo (O’s lead 7-2)

PHOENIX - Orioles manager Brandon Hyde will pay close attention as usual to Dylan Bundy’s work on the mound tonight. However, it’s the at-bats that might draw the closest scrutiny.

And bring the most anxiety.

Bundy sprained his ankle last summer in Atlanta while running to third base and he’s coming off a stint on the injured list with tendinitis in his knee. The risk of injury always hangs heavy in the air, even beneath a closed roof.

“I don’t want him to push anything,” Hyde said. “I’m hoping that we get in some bunt situations and he can bunt and walk to first base and be called out, to be honest with you. I want him off the bases.

“I don’t want to see pitchers get hurt ever offensively. I talked to him already about taking it easy.”

Managers have to hold back pitchers who want to show off their hitting skills.

“They’re so excited,” Hyde said. “They want to hit, they want to get down the line, they want to show that they can do it. And sometimes they push themselves a little too far and so I’m just trying to pump the brakes on him doing anything.”

nunez-throws-off-balance-orange-spring-sidebar.jpgHyde explained why Renato Núñez is playing third base tonight. Reasoning that had been anticipated.

“We want his bat in the lineup,” Hyde said.

The same goes for Chris Davis at first base, which is why they’re handling the corners while the Orioles are playing under National League rules with no designated hitter.

“We want both of their bats in the lineup tonight,” Hyde said.

“Noonie’s been working hard on his defense at third base every day, taking ground balls, working on his footwork, working on his throwing. And we’re putting him out there tonight.”

Hyde said he won’t move Núñez between third and second, as he did with Rio Ruiz in Cleveland.

“I’m not going to do that tonight,” Hyde said.

“I want Noonie to get comfortable over there. He’s earned it. He works every day. Like right now he’s out there taking ground balls. He works really hard on his defense and obviously I want his bat in the lineup. Playing National League style and we’re going to give him a chance, an opportunity.”

The Orioles optioned reliever Branden Kline to Triple-A Norfolk following last night’s game, allowing him to leave on a high note with 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

The exit interview with Hyde was much more pleasant for both parties.

“I told BK after the game that was his best outing of the year,” Hyde said. “I think his split’s starting to come along. Saw some really good splits last night. He’s obviously got a mid-90s fastball. Now it’s about being able to command it, being able to work ahead of hitters, being able to put guys away with secondary or elevate with his fastball. And last night’s 2 1/3, he pitched well. You’ll see him back up here shortly.”

Hyde saw that Mark Trumbo singled in his first at-bat tonight with Norfolk. Trumbo is serving as the Tides’ designated hitter in Rochester while resuming his injury rehab assignment.

Trumbo could get back in the Orioles lineup at some point this summer. It’s dependent on the condition of his surgically repaired right knee.

“Yeah, I think so. I hope so,” Hyde said.

“I saw he’s hitting second tonight for Norfolk and hopefully he feels good. He’s made a lot of progress these last few weeks after he got shut down and ramped it back up in his rehab, and he’s feeling a lot better. He was moving so much better this last time when we were just home, taking fly balls in the outfield, taking BP with us. Just running around the bases you could tell how much better his knee was feeling.

“We’re hoping that everything checks out and he’s able to recover after games and we’ll go from there.”

Nate Karns threw two scoreless innings at Single-A Frederick, allowing one hit and striking out a batter.

Update: Núñez hit a solo home run, his 24th, and Anthony Santander added a two-run shot to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead in the second inning.

Update II: Pitcher Merrill Kelly collected his first major league hit, a bases-loaded two-run single in the second that reduced the lead to 3-2.

Update III: Núñez had an RBI single in the third and Dwight Smith Jr. followed with a three-run homer for a 7-2 lead. Kelly lasted 2 1/3 innings.

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