Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after Friday's win that he and his pitching coaches had a long talk with right-hander Bud Norris before the game to discuss what the next step is.
Norris, who is recovering from a severe case of bronchitis in which he lost 10 pounds, is eligible to come off the disabled list at any time now.
The question is whether he'll make his next start at Triple-A Norfolk or for the Orioles against his old club, the Houston Astros, in Houston next week.
"He's either going to pitch one more time [on a minor league rehabilitation assignment] or pitch for us in Houston," Showalter said. "He'll know about it before you all."
Showalter said no determination was made Friday afternoon because he wanted to see whether Norris might be needed for an emergency bullpen stint this weekend. But since Miguel Gonzalez went eight innings Friday, Showalter decided he'd rather have Norris take a work day this weekend and be ready to start at Houston or once more in the minors.
When asked what will determine that situation, Showalter said, "Us, he and I, and we. I know Bud feels good. He is real close I think; I really do. It's just a matter of whether you want to do that in Houston or want more time in Norfolk and do it in Cleveland. That's really our options, his options. We had a good conversation today. He understands; he wants to pitch bad. It's tough on him."
There is no question, Showalter said, that Norris will return to the Orioles rotation on the road trip despite his unsightly 1-4 record and 9.88 ERA in six starts for the Orioles this year. He also struggled in his two rehab starts this month, compiling a 15.26 ERA with one outing each at Norfolk and Double-A Bowie. In Wednesday's start at Bowie, he pitched well early, but ultimately allowed four runs in five innings. He was tattooed in Norfolk, giving up nine earned runs in 2 2/3 innings last weekend.
But Norris was 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA in 28 starts for the Orioles last year, and Showalter is a big believer in track records. Norris, a pending free agent, is a starter and will remain a starter, Showalter said.
"I plan on Bud coming back in our rotation. That's what he is," Showalter said. "He won 15 games for us and will pitch well for us again this year. I've got a long memory."
Showalter didn't say how he'd make room for Norris in the rotation, whether he would expand it to six pitchers, or remove rookie Mike Wright, who has a sparkling 1.40 ERA in three starts this season.