Continuing to tinker with their roster on a daily basis, the Orioles optioned starter Mitch Atkins to Triple-A Norfolk after Sunday's game and are planning to add right-handed reliever Mark Worrell and third baseman Josh Bell before Monday's series opener against the Boston Red Sox.
Atkins sealed his fate by allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks over three innings in the Orioles' 8-3 victory Sunday over the Cleveland Indians. In two starts since holding the Texas Rangers to one run over six innings in his first major league start, Atkins has surrendered nine runs on 13 hits, five homers and three walks in just 42/3 innings.
"Mitch was very fortunate to get through the innings he did," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He wasn't carrying much location today. It's been a real challenge for a lot of our starters to locate the fastball, and it's something we're going to have to get better at. Just about all the balls they hit off him were balls that were in places we weren't trying to go."
Atkins' demotion leaves another vacancy in the Orioles' evolving rotation but presents an opportunity for Worrell, who hasn't pitched in the majors since appearing in four games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008.
Worrell, 28, is 0-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 35 relief appearances for the Tides. He has 12 saves and represented the Tides in the Triple-A All-Star Game. He would need to be added to the 40-man roster, but the Orioles could simply transfer second baseman Brian Roberts (concussion) to the 60-day disabled list to open a spot.
Bell, the 24-year-old who played in 53 games for the Orioles last year, is batting .254 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs in 86 games for Norfolk.
Along with Atkins' returning to the minors, the Orioles had one more roster vacancy with Alfredo Simon going on the restricted list so he can return to the Dominican Republic to attend to legal issues. The Orioles are hopeful Simon will rejoin the club Tuesday, which would mean that eWorrell, Bell or perhaps Matt Angle, who was promoted Sunday, could be in for a short stay in the big leagues.