NEW YORK — Placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis Friday, right-hander Kevin Gausman won't know how long he will be out until he sees team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs on Monday. But when he does return to the mound, it will likely be as a starter for Triple-A Norfolk.
Pitching out of the bullpen this season, the 24-year-old Gausman has pitched just 12 innings and before going on the DL, he pitched just twice over the past 17 days – a pair of one-inning stints.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Friday that Gausman might have been underused so far this year. Gausman said the discomfort in his shoulder is something he typically feels during spring training, but it usually subsides once the regular season gets going. However, the discomfort continued this year, the first that Gausman began as a reliever.
"That's the thing," Gausman said. "It's been weird. I should be fine. I'm not getting overused. Probably underused more than anything. It's not like I was getting overworked or anything like that. It's just something that kind of carried over. That's why it's been a little frustrating and I think that's why we made the decision to get this figured out. … Maybe my body's not really used to that and maybe that's the way my arm's kind of reacted the way it has."
Once Gausman is ready to pitch, the plan is for him to get three starts at Norfolk, then possibly return to the Orioles based on the team's needs. He isn't eligible to be activated from the DL until May 22, so he could make a start or two for Norfolk before his return date.
"I think they're just going to want me to be on a regular amount of days and knowing when I'm going to pitch," Gausman said. "I think that will be good for me. Maybe that is why my arm is acting up. I don't really know. I don't have any answers yet."
When the season began and Gausman wasn't in the rotation, the big dilemma was whether it would be better for him to start in the Orioles bullpen or get regular work in the Tides rotation. He began the season in the bullpen, but the Orioles would now like to get Gausman more regular work – even if it's at Triple-A – especially if he's going to help the team down the stretch this season and be a lock for next year's rotation. The Orioles could lose starters Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris to free agency.
"I think also this is a big year for me innings-wise because this is the first time I've been able to be told, 'Hey, throw as many innings as you can,'" Gausman said. "That's the way I looked at it going into the season, especially not knowing whether I'd be a starter or not. That's one of the things Buck brought up also. He said at the end of the year, 'We don't want you to have 40 innings and then start for us next season.' I think it's a little bit of both. They want me to get on a routine of having an actual plan every day coming to the park. So going forward, I guess that's where we're at."
Norris questionable for start Sunday
Right-hander Bud Norris might not make his scheduled start in Sunday's series finale against the Yankees, Showalter said following Saturday's game.
Showalter said Norris was sent back to the team hotel on Saturday because he was feeling ill.
"He had chills," Showalter said. "He wasn't running a fever. We just sent him home, precautionary, see how he is tomorrow. … I feel confident Bud will be fine. Just want to get ahead of it. We did some things with our 'pen today to make sure that we can cover it."
Showalter said the team won't call up a pitcher from Triple-A Norfolk to replace Norris if he can't pitch. So the game would likely be pitched out of the bullpen.
Right-hander Brach Brach, who had pitched multiple innings in seven of his 11 relief outings, could give the Orioles some length if needed. He has also pitched just once over the past week, so he's fresh.
The Orioles could also lean on left-hander T.J. McFarland, who pitched three scoreless innings Friday after being recalled from Norfolk. McFarland threw 48 pitches Friday.
Norris is coming off back-to-back quality starts, having allowed six runs over 13 2/3 innings over those two outings.
Around the horn
Infielder Ryan Flaherty didn't start on Saturday as a precaution after tweaking his right groin in Friday night's game, but entered as a defensive substitute in the seventh inning. He made a ninth-inning fielding error that led to an unearned run. ... Showalter said he didn't challenge Alex Rodriguez's triple on Friday — on which a fan reached into the field of play as center fielder Adam Jones crashed into a Plexiglas pane on the right-center field fence — to ask for fan interference because he didn't think it would be overturned. "It never would have been called, especially in New York," Showalter said. … Orioles designated hitter/infielder Jimmy Paredes was given an American League championship ring from the Royals before Saturday's game. Last season, Paredes played 18 games for the Royals, who swept the Orioles in four games in the American League Championship Series, before he was traded to Baltimore for cash last July 24. … After the Orioles recalled McFarland from Norfolk on Friday, on the day he was scheduled to start, Showalter said he sent Tides manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin a text message simply saying, "Sorry." The Tides ended up playing 14 innings on Friday night before losing 4-3 to Buffalo. They used seven pitchers on the night. "The timing wasn't good," Showalter said. "I know the next pitcher was probably [outfielder] Dariel Alvarez."