The Orioles continue to churn their 40-man roster to keep the bullpen fresh, sending right-hander Alec Asher back to Triple-A Norfolk after a disappointing performance in Saturday’s lopsided loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Asher allowed five earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings after replacing starter Dylan Bundy, who also gave up five runs. Right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis has been recalled to fill a similar role in the bullpen.
Manager Buck Showalter didn’t need to remind anybody of his reasons for firing up the Norfolk Shuttle for the umpteenth time, but he did anyway.
“Kind of on the subject, Donnie Hart pitched well last night, and he’s pitching better since he got back,’’ Showalter said. “If you’ve noticed, I and we have made a point not to send somebody out that’s pitching well. That’s how it works. If somebody’s pitching well and we need an arm, we’re going figure out a way to keep them.
“That’s how the world is supposed to work, and we’ve done it a couple times with Ash.”
Asher has stepped up early in the season to pitch well in a pair of spot starts and has been solid in relief, but struggled when he was moved into the rotation in late May, getting knocked around in three of four starts.
Showalter said Sunday morning that Asher will be used as a starter in Norfolk, and conceded that trying to bounce back and forth between two roles might have had an impact on his ability to perform consistently in either one.
“That’s [an easy explanation] and there’s probably some merit to it,’’ Showalter said. “I’d rather not do it if we could, but it has been out of necessity. I asked him today, ‘In a perfect world, would you rather start or relieve down there.’ He said, ‘Whatever you guys need.’ ”
The Orioles probably will need a spot starter Wednesday, because Chris Tillman will be taking paternity leave for the birth of his first child. Asher could be a candidate for that game, but Showalter indicated that it probably will be someone else.
Showalter said the club already has taken steps to prepare for that possibility, and left-hander Jayson Aquino was limited to 60 pitches in his start for the Tides on Saturday. So it isn’t hard to figure out the most likely scenario.