TORONTO — Right-hander Jake Arrieta, who hasn't pitched in 16 days, was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk before Thursday's game to make space on the 25-man roster for starter Kevin Gausman.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the team was deciding between "two or three" possible moves but decided it was most important to get Arrieta back on the mound. While disappointed, Arrieta agreed.
"I need to get innings," Arrieta said Thursday. "I need to pitch in games, whether it's here or there. I just need to get work in and just continue to be consistent really, pitch deep into games, work on things that I need to get better at to be a consistent contributor here. That's it really. Just got to get back to work and keep things going in the right direction."
After pitching for Triple-A Norfolk on May 7, Arrieta was scratched from his next scheduled start because of right shoulder stiffness. He was recalled by the Orioles on May 18 to provide an extra long-relief bullpen arm, but he never pitched in a game during his most recent stint with the team.
"Physically he's fine," Showalter said. "He served a purpose here. He covered us and made us feel good about doing certain things with him there to back us up."
The Orioles will now work with a seven-man bullpen after having an extra arm for most of the past week.
Arrieta said he's confident he's healthy, and he wasn't worried about the layoff. He's getting in his throwing off the mound and on flat ground.
"I'm staying on top of my shoulder, making sure everything with that is good," Arrieta said. "I just need to get back into a game and I just want to get back and help contribute. That's the main goal."
Arrieta will spend Friday helping his family – his wife Brittany is pregnant with the couple's second child – move back to their home in Austin – before reporting to Norfolk, where he will jump back in the starting rotation. Arrieta, who made the Orioles' Opening Day starting rotation but was demoted after pitching to a 6.63 ERA in four starts, was 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in three starts for Norfolk.
"My starts down there were really good," Arrieta said. "My third start I was bothered by my shoulder stiffness. The results weren't great but I pitched into the seventh inning. The shoulder is pretty much behind me now, so I'm on the right track. Everybody wants me to contribute here as well as I do. I'm upbeat about it. I'm not down or upset about it. Obviously, I'd like to be here, but in the grand scheme of things, going down for me is what has to be done right now."
To make room for Gausman on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated reliever Alex Burnett for assignment, meaning they have 10 days to to trade, release or ask waivers on the right-hander. Burnett has appeared in two games for the Orioles, allowing three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.
Jones at DH once more
Adam Jones, who was at designated hitter for the third straight game Thursday, said his sore groin was feeling much better and that he expects to be back in center field tonight.
Jones didn't play in the field for the final two games of the Orioles' homestand, and Showalter said he wanted to keep Jones out of the field for one more game, especially considering it was played on Toronto's hard artificial turf.
"Every day it's getting a little better the way we're doing it," Showalter said. It's nothing serious. Just want to make sure it doesn't turn into something. But of course the turf plays into that. Their turf is a little different than Tampa's. It's firmer, harder and I think they use it for a lot of different purposes."
Orioles arrive in 'Canadian tuxedos'
Two weeks ago, the Orioles bullpen concocted the idea of wearing all denim, known as "Canadian tuxedos," when they arrived in Toronto.
All of the team's relievers, plus bullpen coach Bill Castro, dressed entirely in denim for Wednesday night's flight to Canada. A few position players — Jones, Manny Machado and Alexi Casilla among them — joined in. Machado's jeans overalls were especially unique.
"It was a celebration of denim is what it was," reliever Darren O'Day said. "All denim, all the time. We just felt like doing something different. We had fun."
Said Showalter: "They didn't ask me. I probably would have [joined in]. It was pretty impressive. I got to tell you, some of them were a little too proud of it. Where to we go next? D.C.? What should we wear there?"
Around the horn
Thursday was Showalter's 57th birthday. … The Blue Jays changed their probable starting pitchers for the rest of the series. Left-handed prospect Sean Nolin will make his major league debut tonight. Right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will still start Saturday, and right-hander Chad Jenkins is now scheduled to start Sunday's series finale. … Designated hitter-infielder Wilson Betemit (Grade 2/3 PCL tear) saw team doctors in Baltimore and has been cleared to begin light baseball activities next week. … Catcher Taylor Teagarden (left thumb) caught live batting practice and took swings against coaches on Thursday in Sarasota, Fla. ... Low Class-A Delmarva right-hander Branden Kline, the Orioles' 2012 second-round pick and a Frederick native, underwent surgery to repair a fractured right ankle on Thursday and was placed on the minor league disabled list. ... Norfolk first baseman Travis Ishikawa left Thursday's game with a right thumb sprain.