Left-hander Donnie Hart was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday and left-hander Vidal Nuño was optioned back to the Tides, though he told manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Roger McDowell that he is battling a sore oblique and other nagging injuries and clearly hoped to be placed on the disabled list.
The latest in a long string of bullpen changes was followed by a couple of other roster moves. Outfielder Craig Gentry was recalled from Norfolk later in the day and first baseman David Washington was sent back to make room on the 25-man roster. And in a paper transaction, closer Zach Britton was moved to the 60-day disabled list, which will not affect the timetable for his return.
Nuño, who gave up five runs on six hits in just two-thirds of an inning on Monday night, underwent an MRI that determined whether the club would place him on the DL or send him out.
Since the MRI did not reveal an obvious injury, the team optioned him to make room for Hart, but Nuño said that he would be conferring with his agent about his next step -- perhaps an indication that he might resist the demotion.
"It's been a whole year off and on of the little knick-knacks here and there,'' he said. "Not really injuries. Now, it's my oblique and stuff like that. The MRI came out clean, that's the good thing. Just not feeling right. It's just another day I've got to figure out what I've got to do to get healthy and pitch my way back here."
Hart was happy to be back after spending time at Triple-A for the first time in his career. He said Tuesday that he made the most of the opportunity to figure out the command problems that led to a demotion in May and again two weeks ago.
"You can look at it two ways,'' he said. "You can go down there and feel sorry for yourself or you can go down there and try to get better. I wanted to go down there and work on what I needed to work on and I think I did a pretty decent job of that. Hopefully, it works out."
It was no mystery what kept him from following up on his success last season. He allowed just one earned run in 22 appearances last season and finished with a 0.49 ERA at the big league level. He is 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA in 23 big league outings this year.
"Lack of command … fastballs in and out for the most part,'' he said. "The slider was always there, but you get guys choosing one pitch on you you're never going to have success. I was bitten early on with a lot of dink hits and so on, but you can make excuses all you want, but guys are getting hits and runs are scoring. Not having command of the fastball was probably the biggest thing early on. If you don't have that, you can't really go off anything else."