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Orioles notes: Birds call up Jayson Aquino, option Tyler Wilson to Norfolk

CINCINNATI — In need of an additional reliever after the bullpen accounted for 5 1/3 innings in Tuesday's 9-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, the Orioles called up left-hander Jayson Aquino from Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday.

The club also optioned right-hander Tyler Wilson to Norfolk to make 25-man roster space.

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Aquino was scheduled to start Thursday for the Tides, but will likely serve as a long-relief option available to follow right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

"I really didn't feel as surprised," Aquino said of the call-up through interpreter Ramon Alarcon. "I was confident that at some point this call was going to happen, so just happy for the opportunity. ... I feel good, healthy which is the most important thing for me right now and just ready to work and put in a good day of work out there."

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Aquino was one of the last Opening Day roster cuts after dazzling in spring training. He posted a 1.20 ERA over 15 Grapefruit League innings while holding opposing hitters to a .185 average.

"I felt a little bit down about not making the team right out of spring training, but at the same time, just trying to work," Aquino said. "It's really up to them, whatever decision they want to make. It's really up to me to try to put my best work out there."

Aquino threw a quality start in his most recent outing for Norfolk, tossing six scoreless innings Friday. In two starts, Aquino has a 4.00 ERA, allowing 11 hits with 11 strikeouts and two walks in nine innings.

"I was just concentrating on trying to throw the ball down in the zone, just confident in myself and my abilities," Aquino said of his most recent start. "I watched a couple of videos of my first start and tried to make the adjustments as soon as I watched those videos."

He was a leading candidate for the club's fifth rotation spot with right-hander Chris Tillman starting the season on the disabled list. But the club tabbed right-hander Alec Asher for that spot when the team needed a fifth starter for the first time Saturday.

Manager Buck Showalter said that if Aquino doesn't pitch on Wednesday, he would be a candidate to fill the fifth rotation spot on Saturday, as would Asher, who skipped his work day Tuesday so he'd be available to pitch in relief Wednesday if needed.

"I'm hoping we pitch well enough that we have them both as an option for Saturday, but we'll see what develops over the next couple of days," Showalter said. "I just don't want to put our guys in harm's way."

Wilson pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday and wasn't available to pitch Wednesday. He will not be eligible to return until April 30 unless his return is part of a corresponding DL move.

"Tyler's done a good job for us," Showalter said. "It was just one of those things where we needed an arm."

Rickard taking swings

Outfielder Joey Rickard tested his left middle finger before Wednesday's game by hitting off a tee and doing some light throwing, Showalter said.

It was a significant step in Rickard's recovery, Showalter said. He gripped a bat and a ball for the first time Tuesday.

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"He seemed to have good results from that, so that's encouraging," Showalter said. "He's making progress. You just have to see how he feels tomorrow. After doing that, I'm hoping we can progress to another step. … I'm hoping it starts moving now that we've got this thing out of the way."

Rickard was eligible to return from the disabled list Wednesday, but Showalter said Rickard likely won't be available until the end of this weekend's home series against the Boston Red Sox at the earliest. Showalter said Rickard will likely still need a brief minor league rehabilitation assignment, but might need just one game in the minors before returning.

Smith's hamstring better

Outfielder Seth Smith, who left Tuesday's game with a strained right hamstring strain, wouldn't have been in the Orioles lineup Wednesday anyway against a left-handed starter, but Showalter said Smith's hamstring was "probably as good as we could have expected" Wednesday.

Showalter said the Orioles still have a few days before needing to determine whether Smith will need to go on the DL, but his progress over the past 24 hours was encouraging.

"You don't want to [make a] knee-jerk [decision] last night right after the game and then you come in today and he's feels fine," Showalter said. "Unfortunately, it's one of those things that you really don't know until you play in a game."

Around the horn

Closer Zach Britton, who is continuing to progress from a left forearm strain that landed him on the DL over the weekend, is scheduled to receive a precautionary MRI on Friday after the team returns home. Showalter said the club always planned to perform an MRI on Britton once the road trip ended. "We were going to get one when we got back just to make sure," Showalter said. "We just probably thought it would be a good idea to get that done. It's moving along." ... Pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, who is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction that was performed July 26, threw off a flat mound for the first time Wednesday. ... Catcher Welington Castillo took a foul tip to his palm in Tuesday's game, but he was back in the lineup Wednesday.

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