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Orioles add first group of reinforcements for stretch run as rosters expand Monday

BaseballMajor League BaseballBuck ShowalterJoe SaundersKelly JohnsonEvan MeekUbaldo Jimenez

The Orioles added a pair of relievers Monday, the first day of expanded rosters, as they recalled right-hander Evan Meek from Triple-A Norfolk and purchased the contract of left-hander Joe Saunders from the Tides.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the club initially planned to just add Saunders on Monday, but he decided to add Meek as well after the team was forced to use five relievers in the 12-8 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

The team is also expected to add right-hander Ryan Webb on Tuesday as long as he is OK after his outing at Norfolk on Monday. Webb, who Showalter said had been held back with a sore shoulder in the past few days, hasn’t pitched since last Sunday.

Infielder Kelly Johnson joined the team Monday, and catcher Steve Clevenger and left-hander T.J. McFarland are expected to rejoin the team Tuesday from short-season Single-A Aberdeen.

And right-hander Kevin Gausman officially returned from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team to start Monday's game against the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards.

Johnson, who will be the first player in history to have played for all five current American League East teams, said he was shocked about being dealt from the Boston Red Sox but extremely happy to be joining a pennant race.

“It is a shock, about the best shock you can get,” Johnson said.  “I’m so excited. I’m easily the most excited guy in the room right now, for sure. I’m just happy to come into a situation like this and do everything I can to help win more games.”

Showalter said Saunders, who was also on the Orioles’ 2012 playoff team and was the winning pitcher in the club’s wild-card game win in Texas, likely will be used in a similar role as McFarland as a multiple-inning left-handed reliever, but he could see a spot start if needed.

“Actually, it's been fun,” Saunders said of his transition to the bullpen. “It's a breath of fresh air, if you will, coming to the ballpark and knowing that you can play every day almost rather than every fifth day. It's been fun. Does that say my starting days are over? In my opinion, probably not.”

After Ubaldo Jimenez struggled in the ninth inning Sunday, allowing four of the five batters he faced to reach base, Showalter said the outing was “as much our fault as his.”

Jimenez hadn’t pitched since last Saturday, when he entered the game after a rain delay that lasted more than three hours. Because he was the pitcher coming in after the delay, he was able to prepare as if it were a start.

“In Chicago, we liked it because he was able to approach the inning like a start,” Showalter said. “He was able to throw in the outfield, do his running. He knew an hour before that he was going to start that inning. Yesterday, it was 34 pitches in the bullpen and let’s go. I tried to give him as much heads up as I could. Hopefully it will be a little better next time out."

Jimenez walked three batters and allowed a double Sunday. He walked in a run before he was removed from the game.

“It’s frustrating for us because we know the level he’s capable of,” Showalter said. “He made a couple good pitches, borderline, that could have turned the inning around, and it kind of got away from him. We didn’t want the game to get away from us there.

"As far as what the future holds, we’ll see with some of these doubleheaders and other things, I’d like to get him out there. He’s handled it as well as one can.”

Here are today’s starting lineups:

Orioles

Nick Markakis RF
Delmon Young LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Todd Hundley C
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Kevin Gausman RHP

Twins

Danny Santana CF
Brian Dozier 2B
Joe Mauer DH
Dannys Vargas 1B
Trevor Plouffe 3B
Oswaldo Arcia RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Eduardo Escobar SS
Jordan Schafer LF
Phil Hughes RHP

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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BaseballMajor League BaseballBuck ShowalterJoe SaundersKelly JohnsonEvan MeekUbaldo Jimenez
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