Left-hander T.J. McFarland was prepared to make his scheduled start for Triple-A Norfolk on Friday when he received a call telling him he was headed to Baltimore to give a depleted bullpen an extra arm.
McFarland arrived at Camden Yards about 90 minutes before batting practice, and the club officially recalled him from Norfolk before the game. It was the third time this season he’s been recalled. This time, though, he was expecting the call.
“Obviously, the last couple of days, with the extra-inning game last night and then the bullpen getting used the last couple of days, there was a chance that I would be called up,” McFarland said.
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The Orioles went through seven relievers Wednesday and Thursday, stretching the bullpen so thin that the Orioles made mid-game calls to Norfolk to prepare roster moves.
McFarland’s role at Norfolk makes him a valuable asset in the big leagues. As a starter for the Tides, McFarland seamlessly can transition into a long reliever for an Orioles team that is in desperate need of fresh arms in the bullpen. His time at Norfolk also allowed him to improve his changeup, which he said needed the most attention.
“It’s helped me tremendously,” McFarland said. “I’m able to get stretched out a little bit and work on the pitches that I need to work on.”
His previous stints this year with the Orioles have been brief. McFarland spent just three days with the club in late April and six in early May. He made three appearances in that span, allowing three earned runs in seven innings (3.86 ERA).
But because the Orioles are expected to start righties through the end of their four-game series against the Indians, the left-handed McFarland becomes an even more valuable weapon out of the bullpen as a long reliever.
The Orioles optioned right-hander Preston Guilmet, who pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings in Thursday’s 13-inning game, to Norfolk when they called up McFarland, but Friday’s roster move could come entirely without penalty.
First baseman Chris Davis is expected to go on paternity leave this weekend, allowing manager Buck Showalter to call up a minor leaguer, even if he was optioned within the 10-day restricted window.
Guilmet wasn’t likely to make another appearance until at least Saturday.
Orioles pondering next step with Hunter
Right-hander Tommy Hunter, who was placed Thursday on the DL with a left groin strain, may not join the Orioles on their 10-game, 11-day road trip to Milwaukee and Texas.
“We’re trying to make our mind on whether Tommy’s going to stay here or go with us,” Showalter said.
Showalter explained that the decision will be based on whether Hunter will be healthy enough to pitch in a rehabilitation assignment in the next 11 days. If he is, Showalter said, Hunter will either stay in Baltimore or travel to the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla.
Hunter is eligible to return from the DL on June 5, the day the Orioles complete their road trip before returning to Baltimore for a 10-game homestand.
Around the horn
Right-hander Darren O’Day has been nominated for the annual Bob Feller Act of Valor Award, which honors “three individuals that reflect the values, integrity and dedication to serving our country” that Feller possessed. The award is presented to one U.S. Navy chief petty officer, one National Baseball Hall of Famer and one active major league player, and will be announced July 5. … Nick Markakis tied and passed Paul Blair for eighth on the Orioles’ all-time hit list with 1,427. … Left-handed pitcher Travis Seabrooke, the Orioles’ fifth-round pick in 2013, tore the ACL in his right knee. He underwent season-ending surgery Monday. … Friday was Showalter’s 58th birthday. He was given a cake of a basset hound. … Right-hander Chris Tillman will make his next start Monday in Milwaukee, as scheduled, Showalter said. … With Machado sidelined Friday, Jonathan Schoop hit in the No. 2 spot Friday for the first time in his big league career. He hit in the No. 2 spot at every minor league level since low Class-A Delmarva. … Catcher Steve Clevenger, a Pigtown native, visited Overlook Elementary School on Friday, which he attended.