BOSTON -- Right-hander Kevin Gausman is back with the Orioles for the third time this season, is again expected to fill a bullpen role — something he excelled at in his most recent stint in the big leagues.
"Tonight, we look at him as a reliever, but in the future we still think he is going to be a good starter for us. But you never know what path your career takes down the road," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, referencing converted relievers Tommy Hunter and Jim Johnson. "But right now we are still looking at [Gausman as a starter] because that's [what] is the hardest to find."
The fourth overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, Gausman rocketed through the system in his first full pro season, making his major league debut May 23 with a five-inning outing against the Toronto Blue Jays. But in five major league starts he went 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA. He returned June 24, was placed in the bullpen and was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four appearances.
The Orioles sent him back to the minors before the All-Star Break, monitored his innings and brought him back Wednesday.
"My first couple times out of the pen, I learned that I don't need that much time," Gausman said of pitching in relief. "I can be a reliever and I can pick the ball up and start throwing right away and be ready in a couple minutes. It's something that has been a little bit different, but I feel great about it. I think that's kind of why, earlier in the year, they did that to me. So at this point I would be ready for it and feel comfortable with it."
The Orioles limited Gausman to just three innings and 40 pitches in his last Triple-A start Sunday. They also skipped his spot in the rotation once with the Tides because he was dealing with a little forearm tightness. It was purely precautionary, Gausman said, another way to keep him fresh for September.
"That was nothing, to be honest," said Gausman, who had thrown a combined 115 1/3 innings between the majors and minors this season heading into Wednesday. "I just kind of iced my arm one day. I never ice my arm, [so]everybody starting asking questions."
Gausman said he learned Tuesday that he was getting called up again. It's expected that if all goes well he'll remain with the Orioles the rest of the season and, potentially, the postseason.
"He's had a lot of things thrown in that he can handle," Showalter said. "I think everybody's done a good job monitoring the innings and getting him where he needs to be. This will be a good way to finish up his season here, hopefully through October."
Even though he's still a rookie, Gausman said things are much smoother for him now as opposed to when he joined the club in May.
"The first time it's like, 'Wow.' Cameras everywhere and so many people," Gausman said. "Now, I feel pretty good and I have a good relationship with most of the guys. It makes it easy."
Chen to GCL, briefly
To make room for Gausman on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned starter Wei-Yin Chen to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League on Wednesday, a day after the left-hander turned in the worst performance of his career (eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Boston Red Sox).
The move was procedural, not punitive.
Chen won't miss a turn in the rotation. He is expected to start Sunday at Yankee Stadium and will throw a side session Thursday morning in Sarasota, Fla., before flying back and meeting the team in New York on Saturday morning.
"Initially, I think [Chen] was thinking he had a bad start last night and we were sending him to the Gulf Coast League. That wasn't the case at all. His service time allowed us to send him there," Showalter said. "He understands. We would have liked to send him to Baltimore, but that wouldn't have been legal."
Because Chen has no prior minor league service time, he can be optioned to the organization's lowest level affiliate. Normally, when a player is sent to the minors, he must stay there 10 days before being recalled unless there is an injury. But because the GCL Orioles' season ends Thursday, Chen does not have to wait the 10 days.
It's a loophole in the rules, and the Orioles are using it. The demotion also will not affect whether Chen can be eligible for the postseason. Although there may have to be some roster maneuvering, so long as a player is in the organization on Aug. 31 he can, technically, be considered for the postseason roster.
Betemit makes first start
Wilson Betemit, who made his 2013 debut Tuesday night as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning and grounded out in the ninth, was in the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since last Sept. 13.
He had missed all of this season after tearing a ligament in his right knee March 25 during a spring training game against the Red Sox. Betemit, who batted .302 against right-handed pitchers in 2012, got the start at designated hitter and batted eighth against Boston's John Lackey on Wednesday.
"It's a big night for him," Showalter said. "If nothing else, just getting back all the way. I was really glad we could get him in the game [Tuesday] night."
Showalter said he'll be monitoring how Betemit runs the bases to see if, mentally and physically, he is over the serious knee injury.
"There's some unknown about what level he's going to return at, but there's only one way to find out," Showalter said. "To think he's going to come back and be the exact same physical runner, I'd be surprised. But he could be."
Around the horn
Showalter said he didn't expect the Orioles to make another move before rosters expand Sept. 1, "but that doesn't mean Dan [Duquette] doesn't have something up his sleeve." Duquette, the club's executive vice president, has been looking to add a bat, preferably right-handed, this month. … Infialder Ryan Flaherty, who was sent to Low-A Delmarva on Tuesday, was scheduled to be the Shorebirds' DH on Wednesday because of field conditions. He is expected to play Thursday for the Shorebirds and then Saturday through Monday at High-A Frederick before re-joining the Orioles. … After losing 13-2 on Tuesday, the Orioles have now allowed 13 or more runs to the Red Sox 23 times in the clubs' histories, including 15 times at Fenway Park. It was the 10th time the Orioles allowed 13 or more to Boston since the 2002 season. … Infielder Travis Adair, who had an 18-game hitting streak at High-A Frederick, was promoted to Double-A Bowie on Wednesday. He is the son of Rick Adair, who was the Orioles pitching coach before taking a leave of absence earlier this month.
twitter.com/danconnollysunCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun