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T.J. McFarland called up by Orioles, reliever Ashur Tolliver optioned to Triple-A Norfolk

T.J. McFarland #66 of the Baltimore Orioles throws in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 22, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.
T.J. McFarland #66 of the Baltimore Orioles throws in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 22, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Ed Zurga / Getty Images)

Their bullpen taxed in the middle of 20 straight game days, the Orioles added length to their bullpen Wednesday. Left-hander T.J. McFarland rejoined the team and will officially be called up after batting practice following nearly a month at Triple-A Norfolk.

Left-hander Ashur Tolliver was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for him.

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McFarland, who worked as a starter at the beginning of his stint at Norfolk, suffered a knee injury on May 20, but has pitched well while on assignment. He returned from the injury to pitch two scoreless innings Monday.

McFarland has a 1.69 ERA in four minor league appearances, with a 4.73 ERA in the majors before he went down.

The Orioles were always in a tenuous position with long relief while McFarland was in the minors and Tyler Wilson was in the rotation. Vance Worley has served well in a long-relief role, but some short starts recently made it so Dylan Bundy, the other candidate to go multiple innings, was called upon for other responsibilities.

"We want to make sure we have length regardless of who's starting for us or who we're playing, make sure that we're able to protect everybody physically," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "The two length guys, our bullpen operated its best when we had two guys with length."

Tolliver, 28, made his major league debut last week, and threw four innings over four appearances in his eight days in the big leagues, allowing three earned runs and striking out five.

Showalter said he hopes to get Tolliver back in a more stretched-out role in the future.

"Ashur's capable of doing that, too," Showalter said before the game. "If he ever goes out, I'd rather him pitch two-inning stints farther apart. He's capable of pitching multiple innings because of the changeup. He's presented himself well here, the way you'd like to see a 28-year-old guy who's gone through some challenges come up here and go, 'Listen, this might be my one shot. I'm going to let it rip. I'm going to attack the strike zone.' That's the thing I was hoping to see from him."

The Virginian-Pilot first reported that McFarland was coming to Baltimore.

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