TORONTO — The Orioles chose right-hander Alec Asher from their cast of rotation candidates at Triple-A Norfolk to start Saturday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, manager Buck Showalter announced Thursday.
Asher, who was acquired by the Orioles in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies on March 28, threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his first Triple-A start of the season, allowing four hits, striking out six and walking none Monday. He was in line to start Saturday.
The Orioles' decision to start Asher suggests the club will use its best matchups on a case-by-case basis to fill the rotation hole created by right-hander Chris Tillman (shoulder) opening the season on the disabled list. Asher would face a righty-dominated Blue Jays lineup, which made him a reasonable choice over left-hander Jayson Aquino.
"We know that has potential to be a moving piece until Chris gets back," Showalter said. "We can play a little matchup there until we know for sure when we're going to get Chris back. Like we said before, we're going to take advantage of the versatility of the guys we have on the roster who have options who can go back and forth and hopefully put out best foot forward.
"The good news is we have some guys to pick from, not only there, but potentially in Bowie, too. It's a good move for us in a lot of ways. There's a lot transactions that may happen that people may not pay attention to that really are very meaningful for a team that had to do it the way we have to do it."
Asher made just one appearance for the Orioles in Florida, pitching a scoreless inning in the team's Grapefruit League finale on March 30.
"We've faced him a couple times. We've seen him a lot," Showalter said. "He's pitched for us twice. We have an idea. There will be another different atmosphere, so to speak, that he'll be pitching in front of Saturday. We felt like he was our best option at this point."
Because of three days off in the season's first eight days, the Orioles don't need a fifth starter until Saturday. Aquino initially appeared to be the front runner to take the spot.
He emerged with a strong spring in which he posted a 1.20 ERA in 15 Grapefruit League innings. Aquino struggled in his only Triple-A start, allowing eight base runners and four runs over three innings Sunday.
Showalter said last week that results in Norfolk the first time through the rotation wouldn't be a determining factor, and Aquino had a work day Tuesday, which still put him on pace to be able to start Saturday with a travel day to Canada included.
Around the horn:
The Orioles received a shipment of T-shirts from the Washington Capitals, who opened their first-round NHL playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. Several Orioles players wore the shirts during pregame. … Outfielder Michael Bourn, who re-signed with the team this week on a restructured minor league deal, is in the middle of a hitting progression in order to build the strength and range of motion in his injured finger. Norfolk added Bourn to its roster and placed him on the minor league DL, but he's still some time away from getting into game. … Minor league outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who is working his way back from offseason surgeries, played seven innings in an extended spring game Thursday. When healthy, he will be added to a crowded outfield mix in Norfolk.