Orioles notes: Welington Castillo to disabled list; Chris Tillman yields four homers in rehab start

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles manager Buck Showater’s hope Monday that catcher Welington Castillo wouldn’t need to go on the disabled list went unfulfilled.

What was described Monday as neck spasms was reclassified after an MRI on Tuesday as right shoulder tendinitis, and it landed the new Orioles catcher on the 10-day disabled list.

“I think it’ll manage itself within the 10 days, but because of the position, we’re going to need a catcher,” Showalter said. “We were thinking about it, waiting on the tests, and talking with Welington, the most. This is a path that we decided to take, including Welington.”

Catcher Francisco Peña, who had two stints with the Orioles last season but was designated for assignment off the 40-man roster before spring training, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Norfolk to take Castillo’s place.

Showalter hopes Castillo’s absence, even with the disabled list assignment, isn’t a long one. The team gave him an MRI with his physical before he signed a one-year free-agent contract, and the shoulder area looked structurally the same as it did back then, which Showalter took as a positive.

“I don’t know how much the WBC, the early start [affected him],” Showalter said, referring to Castillo’s participation in the World Baseball Classic with the Dominican Republic team.

When it was described by Showalter as a neck problem, it harked back to early February, when Castillo missed a game with neck soreness while preparing for the WBC.

“He’s been kind of fighting it, but we’re going to try to clear it up so it’s not an issue this year,” Showalter said.

Castillo is batting .314 with a .776 OPS and seven extra-base hits, including one home run.

“He will [contribute] again,” Showalter said. “It’s a long season. He started a medical dose pack, which usually takes two to four days. You start throwing and see how you are the next day. But you just can’t play this game. If it was another position, we might try to wait on it. But you’re a foul tip away from seeing Ryan Flaherty make his debut behind the plate. I know Ryan is pretty excited about bringing in another catcher today, I can tell you that.”

To open a spot on the 40-man roster for Peña, the Orioles designated right-hander Damien Magnifico for assignment. Magnifico had allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 relief innings since the Orioles acquired him from the Milwaukee Brewers for an international signing bonus slot last month. They have a week to trade him, put him on waivers, or assign him to the minors.

Tillman taken deep four times in five innings: In what is expected to be his final rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk, right-hander Chris Tillman (shoulder) allowed four home runs but completed five innings for the Tides at Charlotte.

Tillman threw 91 pitches and allowed just five hits overall, but had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark. He struck out six while walking just two, and could be on track to make his season debut for the Orioles on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox.

Britton activated: Showalter hopes the return Tuesday of closer Zach Britton, who was activated off the disabled list after two-plus weeks out with a left forearm strain, allows the bullpen to flow a little more naturally.

“I’m not envisioning — it’s the way that we present ourselves the best," Showalter said. "It doesn’t mean these guys aren’t capable of doing the job, which they have done for us. It’s hard. You’ve got to close out a seventh inning, an eighth inning, a ninth inning — you’d like to do it with your starter, but that’s really hard to do in today’s game.”

While Britton was down on the disabled list, the Orioles had a decent amount of success with their bullpen shifted back into different roles. Brad Brach converted five of six save opportunities and really only had a costly home run against the New York Yankees on April 28 as a blemish on his record.

Darren O’Day, Donnie Hart and Mychal Givens all filled in well in the late innings, and shift back toward the still-important setup roles the team envisioned for them with Britton’s return.

The Orioles rank 11th in baseball with a 4.00 bullpen ERA.

Around the horn: Right-hander Mike Wright was optioned to Norfolk to create a 25-man roster spot for Britton. He was called up Monday as bullpen depth and did not appear in that night’s game before being sent out. … In a slew of roster moves for Norfolk, the Tides announced that right-hander Zach Stewart and outfielder Michael Choice were released. The Tides activated outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who is coming back from offseason core surgery. ... Tuesday’s starters, Chris Sale for Boston and Alec Asher for the Orioles, attended the same high school — Lakeland (Fla.) Senior High. ... The Red Sox placed knuckleballer Steven Wright on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained left knee, retroactive to Sunday. Wright, 1-3 in five starts this season with an 8.25 ERA, was scheduled to pitch against the Orioles on Thursday. Kyle Kendrick, who hasn't pitched in the major leagues this season, is expected to be activated and start in his place.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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