By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
9:10 PM EDT, June 27, 2012
Steve Tolleson was in full uniform before Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels, waiting for the lineup to be posted, until he was called into Orioles manager Buck Showalter's office.
Minutes later, he was packing his equipment to head back to Triple-A Norfolk and changing into street clothes.
Tolleson was Wednesday's roster casualty, optioned to Norfolk before the game to make space for right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom, who was activated form the 15-day disabled list after missing time with a right middle finger injury.
"This definitely caught me by surprise," Tolleson said. "I knew someone was going to have to get moved today, but I didn't realize it would be a position player. Whatever can help this team win games is what I'm all about. Unfortunately, again it was me. I look forward to the time where I can be a fixture on this team, but just because it's not right now, it doesn't mean I won't be here to help this team in the second half."
Tolleson provided the Orioles with much-needed defensive flexibility through a rash of injuries, making four starts in left field since being recalled June 14. But he was hitting just .125 (2-for-16) against right-handed pitching.
"It's kind of like last time," Showalter said. "We want to get him some at bats. He's done a good job for us against left-handed pitching. I think if they stay on schedule with the rain, [we'll face] probably seven of nine right-handed pitchers, but that's a moving target."
In 17 total games, Tolleson is hitting .220/.278/.380 with 2 homers and 6 RBIs while making starts at both third and in left.
"I feel like I've performed well with the chances I've been given," Tolleson said. "They told me this wasn't a performanced-based [move], that 'We want you to go work on things.' It was more 'We'd like to see you get some consistent at-bats.' Now seems like a good time to do that."
The move gives the Orioles 13 pitchers on the roster, which Showalter said will remain the case until at least the end of the homestand Sunday.
"I think with some of the things we're going to have to do with our rotation, we want to make sure we're covered in our pitching," Showalter said.
Lindstrom works his way back
Showalter said he'd like to work Lindstrom — whose previous Orioles appearance was May 10 — back into his late-inning relief role steadily. He entered Wednesday's game in the fourth inning with the Orioles trailing 6-1.
"I think physically he's in a good place and you'd like to work him back into it, but we'll see if the game dictates that," Showalter said before the game.
Lindstrom has been used in various late-inning situations between the sixth and eighth innings, including four multiple-inning stints. He opened the season with 12 straight scoreless appearances before allowing two earned runs in his final outing before going on the disabled list May 11.
"I'd prefer not to use [him] multiple innings," Showalter said. "I'd feel comfortable using him for a second inning, but I'd like to stay away from it, like a lot of our guys."
Lindstrom has held right-handed hitters to a .182 (6-for-33) batting average.
Catcher Wade Wass, the Orioles' 13th-round pick out of Meridian Junior College, has told the club he will be going to Alabama instead of signing.
Wass and Ryan Ripken, the Orioles' 20th round pick out of Gilman and the son of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., are the only two draftees who have told the club so far that they are definitely eschewing pro ball for school. Ripken has a scholarship to play at South Carolina.
The Orioles are not planning on signing any more non-drafted free agents from the 2012 class, scouting director Gary Rajsich said. They have signed 24 of 40 draftees after announcing that California high school pitcher Jake Pintar (29th round) signed Wednesday .
The Orioles have exchanged numbers with the their top picks, pitchers Kevin Gausman of LSU, and Virginia's Branden Kline, but agreements are more likely to happen as the sides near the July 13 deadline.
With South Carolina losing to Arizona in the College World Series on Monday night, the Orioles are now in negotiations with Gamecocks first baseman Christian Walker (their fourth-round pick) and pitcher Matthew Price (seventh round).
Eveland on Saturday?
Left-hander Dana Eveland and right-hander Tommy Hunter remain the leading candidates for Saturday's start against the Cleveland Indians, Showalter said, but a look inside the numbers might give a clue to where the Orioles are leaning.
The Indians have the worst batting average against left-handed pitching (.216) in all of baseball, so Eveland is likely to get the nod.
Eveland returned to the club Wednesday after traveling to California to be with his wife after the birth of their second son. He gave the Orioles a quality start (6 innings, 5 hits, 3 earned runs) despite walking six in his only major league start this season May 11 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Around the horn
Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, the starter for Thursday's series opener vs. Cleveland, is 4-1 with a 2.82 ERA in seven home starts. … Triple-A Norfolk right-handed pitchers Jason Berken and Miguel Socolovich were named to the International League All-Star team. Berken is 1-1 with a 2.32 ERA in 14 starts and has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his outings. Socolovivh is 3-0 with a save and a 1.59 ERA in 21 relief appearances. … The Orioles needtwo more wins to guarantee a winning record at the All-Star break for just the second time since 1997. The Orioles were 47-40 at the break in 2005.
Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.
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