Orioles notebook: Duensing returns, Despaigne designated, Kim bats ninth

Orioles pregame notes: Duensing returns, Despaigne designated, Kim batting ninth.

ST. PETERSBURG – The Orioles added a third non-closer left-handed bullpen arm to their roster before Monday afternoon’s game in Tampa Bay, activating Brian Duensing from the 60-day disabled list, but manager Buck Showalter said he doesn’t expect any other immediate expanded-roster additions after minor league seasons end Monday.

“[Not] unless there’s a need,” Showalter said. “There might be a subtraction.”

The Orioles hope that getting right-hander Chris Tillman, set-up man Darren O’Day and outfielder Joey Rickard from the disabled list will aid the team’s playoff push more than any added minor league depth. Several minor leaguers will be asked to report to Sarasota for a camp there that begins on Friday in case there’s a need later this month.

Tillman and O’Day – who both threw bullpen sessions before Monday afternoon’s game at Tropicana Field – are closer to a return than Rickard, who isn’t eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list until Sept. 19.

Duensing, who made just seven appearances before going on the disabled list June 20 with left elbow inflammation, made three outings for Double-A Bowie on his rehab assignment, yielding just one earned run over seven innings.  

“He’s been pitching well for a while now,” Showalter said. “His last three outings have been real good. Just another reminder of the guys we’ve been missing for quite a while. Good to get him back.”

When the Orioles added Duensing, they were in search of a situational lefty reliever, but he’s pitched more than two innings in all three of his outings at Bowie, including a three-inning outing in his last appearance, so the team could give Duensing extended relief outings, much like it used left-hander T.J. McFarland in long relief behind right-handed starters.

“There’s that potential,” Showalter said. “That’s why we wanted to go that way. I’m hoping there’s not a need for it, but it’s good to know he’s capable of it.”

Duensing joins Donnie Hart and Jayson Aquino as left-handed, middle-inning relief arms – closer Zach Britton is also a lefty -- and Showalter said one lefty could be sent to Sarasota to stay fresh.

“If we don’t feel like somebody’s going to pitch … we’ll probably put them in Sarasota,” Showalter said. “We’d rather keep them active over there. We’ll see. That may not continue.”

Despaigne designated for assignment

The team designated right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne in order to make 40-man roster space for Duensing.

Despaigne, who was acquired in February in a trade with the San Diego Padres for minor league pitcher Jean Cosme, pitched to a 5.60 ERA over 27 2/3 relief innings with the Orioles.

He was used mainly as a multiple-inning relief arm, but also received some late-inning outings while O’Day was on the disabled list. But Despaigne struggled down the stretch, allowing 13 earned runs over his last six outings in mostly mop-up duty as his ERA ballooned from 2.70 to 5.60.

“I’m sure he’ll be picked up by somebody,” Showalter said. “You can’t keep them all. He’s got a good arm. He had some inconsistencies, but when he was good he was very serviceable. I was a little surprised by his walk totals up here and his command. It was almost like he had too many toys, too many weapons. He’s got a lot of different pitches, but we tried to really get him to focus on a couple that he could be a master of. I think he kind of, that was a challenge for him to command the baseball enough up here. And he’s capable of doing it, too. He’d go through periods, but … we knew somebody had to go. We all had input on it.

Kim batting ninth

Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim has made most of his starts this season from the No. 2 spot in the batting order, but Showalter placed Kim in the No. 9 spot for his second straight start on Monday, hoping to utilize his ability to get on base for leadoff man Adam Jones when the order turns.

Kim leads the Orioles with a .386 on-base percentage and is hitting .385 from the No. 9 spot, although most of those at bats were earlier in the season before he made his way up the batting order. Meanwhile, hot-hitting designated hitter Pedro Alvarez batted second for the fourth time in his last five starts, stacking the top of the Orioles lineup with five batters who have hit 20 or more homers.

And Kim’s leadoff double in the fifth inning off Rays right-hander Matt Andriese set the stage for a five-run inning. Jones moved him to third on a single, and Kim scored on Chris Davis’ two-out, two-run single.

“Adam, we only know is going to lead off once,” Showalter said. “He’s capable of driving in a lot of runs, also where their bullpen is concerned. They have two left-handers. Most of their guys are neutral-to-reverse split guys. … It’s kind of a big picture thing. [Alvarez has] done a nice job at second. His on-base percentage has been good.”

Around the horn: The Orioles have outscored the Rays 61-36 this season. … Chris Davis’ home run was the Orioles’ 215th of the season, which ranks them third in team history behind the 1996 team (257) and last year’s team (217).

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