Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed Friday that right-hander Kevin Gausman was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after Thursday night's win to add another fresh arm to the bullpen.
Showalter, however, did say there were no guarantees Gausman would be back as soon as possible.
"I didn't tell him, promise him," Showalter said. "I made sure he understood he could conceivably stay down there the rest of the year — see what the needs are going to be up here. I told him to go down there and present himself as an option for us. It's all in his hands."
The Orioles recalled right-hander Jake Arrieta from Norfolk on Friday.
Gausman's outing in the Orioles' 5-4 13-inning victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday featured both glimpses of his vast potential and his continued growing pains at the major league level. The rookie pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowed two runs on back-to-back solo home runs in the fourth and struck out five while issuing no walks.
He struck out the side for the first time in his career in the second and hasn't issued a walk in two home starts. He exited the game with a 4-2 lead and in line for his first career victory, but the Orioles' bullpen faltered and allowed the Red Sox to tie the game in the seventh.
"He'll be back, and he'll be back soon," catcher Matt Wieters said. "It's the one thing that does stink about a long game is you're going to have to make some moves and some moves that might not be easy moves. You've got to be able to set up your bullpen to where it can stay healthy for a whole year."
Despite Gausman's 0-3 record and 7.66 ERA in 24 2/3 innings over five starts, Showalter said the growth of the former fourth overall pick has been impressive. Even after Gausman allowed the consecutive home runs to Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz and first baseman Mike Carp, he rebounded to finish the inning.
"He doesn't look at it like 'I can't pitch up here,'" Showalter said. "He looks at it like, 'I made two mistakes and they should have ended up there.' So he was kind of mad at himself. It wasn't like, 'These guys are a different level.' He knows he can pitch up here. He's got the stuff to pitch up here."
Now, Gausman will head to Triple-A for the first time — he was called up to the Orioles directly from Double-A Bowie — for the chance to fine tune. Showalter said he talked to the Norfolk staff along with pitching coach Rick Adair, and he also said Gausman knows what he needs to improve in the minors.
"If we had played nine innings, Gaus would have stayed," Showalter said. "I told him that last night. I was probably a little too upfront about it. I also told him there was no assurances. He's going to a level he hasn't pitched at. The good side of it, he leaves with a good outing and a chance to take a deep breath and kind of think about some things."
NOTES:Freddy Garcia, Saturday's projected starter, could also pitch out of the bullpen, if necessary, along with lefty long reliever T.J. McFarland, who threw just one inning Thursday.
One pitcher who won't be at the park Friday is Jason Hammel. He is dealing with a virus/illness that he picked up from his child. He is currently scheduled to pitch Monday.
Second baseman Alexi Casilla (right index finger) has been cleared to play without restrictions. He hasn't played since jamming his finger on Sunday.
The Orioles announced their first wave of 10 signings from this year's draft – though several have already been reported. They are: catcher Alex Murphy (6th round, Calvert Hall), Steven Brault (11), James Yacabonis (13), Caleb Kellogg (17), Nick Cunningham (20), Jared Breen (24), Conor Bierfeldt (29) Jeff Kemp (33), Eric Green (36) and Augey Bill (39). Brault, Yacabonis, Breen, Bierfeldt and Kemp will report to Aberdeen; the others will go to Sarasota for the Gulf Coast League.