While the Orioles were shuttling young pitchers back and forth between Norfolk, Va., and Baltimore the past 2 ½ months, 29-year-old Sean Gilmartin patiently waited his turn.
If his 2.48 ERA in 17 appearances at the Triple-A level is any indication, he has been the most consistent reliever on the Tides roster this season, but getting here was more complicated because he wasn’t on the 40-man major league roster.
The Orioles finally made room for him Monday, selecting his contract and designating outfielder Joey Rickard for assignment. Gilmartin, who spent parts of three seasons with the New York Mets before pitching well in 12 appearances with the Orioles last year, said he didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about when he might get back to the majors.
“I think every time you go out there you want to do well,’’ he said. “You want to put up good numbers. You get back to this level and compete at this level. That is your driving factor. As long as you’re taking it the right way and going about your business the right way, I think that’s a good thing to do.
“You can get caught up in ‘Why am I not up? Why didn’t I get called up here?’ A lot of stuff was happening during the year with a lot of guys going back and forth, and you just have to block it.”
Manager Brandon Hyde is just happy to have another rested arm and a little more experience in a bullpen that has too often helped turn a middle- or late-inning lead into a loss.
“We needed a pitcher today and Sean has major league experience and is a left-hander who can pitch multiple innings for us,” Hyde said, “and the way our weekend went, obviously we needed an arm here and we’re excited to see what Sean can do.
“It’s nice to have somebody with experience here and Sean’s throwing the ball really well in Norfolk. With the way our games play out, we need guys who can cover innings.”
Gilmartin credited the enhanced minor league advance scouting the Orioles have employed with helping everyone perform better at Triple-A.
“There’s a lot of information being put forward in our pre-series meetings that we have,’’ he said. “The guys that we have down there who are putting together those videos and spray charts, they’re doing a pretty good job.
“I think any time you can go out there and use the information to your advantage and you put up good numbers behind it, I think it helps.”
Rickard has been been in the major league outfield mix for parts of four seasons and got another chance to play regularly at the start of this one, but his defensive versatility could not outweigh a lack of production at the plate. He was batting .203 with just two homers and six RBIs in 42 games before he was optioned back to the Tides in late May.
“Obviously, we hope that he clears [waivers],” Hyde said. “I like Joey a lot and that’s part of the game and it stinks. I hope he clears and stays in the organization or whatever works out best for him. He’s obviously a great guy and I’m hoping for the best.”
Dwight Smith Jr. might be on the way
Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. is scheduled to play a pair of injury rehabilitation games for Norfolk at Scranton on Tuesday and Wednesday night. If all goes well, he’ll rejoin the major league club for at least part of the four-game series in Seattle that starts on Thursday.
DJ Stewart isn’t quite as close to returning. Hyde said he stayed back in Baltimore to continue rehabbing his sprained ankle, but could go on a rehab assignment soon.
Wednesday’s pitching plans still uncertain
The decision on a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s series finale against the A’s might not be known until after Tuesday’s game. Though rookie Josh Rogers was thought to be in line to enter the rotation, Hyde said everything depends on how much the bullpen is needed for the first two games of the series. He said there’s probably a better chanced the O’s use an opener and make Wednesday a bullpen day.