A day after their bullpen surrendered five more home runs, the Orioles made a series of moves ahead of Sunday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins.
Catcher Austin Wynns and right-handers Branden Kline and Luis Ortiz were recalled from Triple-A Norfolk as the team tries to avoid a second sweep by the Twins in eight days. To make room on the 25-man roster, right-hander Alex Cobb was placed on the 10-day injured list for the third time this season and for the second time with a lower back strain, while right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis was optioned to Norfolk and catcher Jesús Sucre was designated for assignment.
Cobb has allowed nine home runs in 12 1/3 innings this season, making only three starts while batting groin and back injuries. Originally manager Brandon Hyde’s selection to make the Orioles’ Opening Day start, he instead began the season on the injured list with right groin soreness. After an effective start in Baltimore’s home opener against the New York Yankees, he felt spasms in his back and missed two starts on the IL.
He has allowed 13 earned runs and seven home runs in 6 2/3 innings in two starts, both against the Twins, since returning. Cobb returned to Baltimore and will at some point head to the Orioles’ extended spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla.
“I think that his lower back is bothering him and I think you could see he’s not having the extension on his pitches that he would like and it’s frustrating for him,” Hyde said. “It’s probably leading to some other things. We felt like it was best to put him on the DL to give him some time. Let him heal up a little bit. Hopefully, it’s not too long but we’re going to miss him in the rotation.”
Cobb avoided making any rehabilitation starts before returning from his second IL stint, and Hyde said whether Cobb makes any this time around will be dependent on how long he’s shelved.
“When he comes back I want him to be Alex Cobb, healthy Alex Cobb,” Hyde said. “I don’t want to rush him at all. I want him to be full strength, feeling good physically and ready to pitch. So we’re going to give him as much time as he needs.”
Right-hander David Hess, who temporarily moved to the bullpen but has yet to make a relief appearance since the decision, will take Cobb’s place in the Orioles’ rotation and start Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.
Hyde said the decision to let Sucre go was related to the team’s desire to call up Wynns, who was hitting .385 with six walks and no strikeouts in Norfolk. Sucre proved himself to be a valuable asset defensively as a veteran catcher working with a young staff, but the 30-year-old was hitting only .210.
“Been kind of a tough day,” Hyde said. “Suc has been awesome since he’s been here. And he brings a ton on the field, he brings a ton in the clubhouse. So I really enjoyed having him. I hope that he gets a major league job. If not, I would obviously love to have him back and back up here. We’re excited to have Austin here. At the same time, tough to see Suc go.”
Hyde said Wynns and Pedro Severino will split time behind the plate, while Wynns is simply happy to be back with the club after beginning the season on the IL with a left oblique injury. Wynns made his major league debut in 2018, hitting .255 with four home runs in 42 games.
"Obliques are a weird injury,” Wynns said. "Trust me, I was annoyed. I was trying to get back as fast as I can, and that probably prolonged it rather than just taking it slow, but I have no issues anymore. Just ready to take this on.
“Oblique, no more,” he added, knocking on his wood locker.
Yacabonis gave up three home runs Saturday, pushing his ERA up to 6.32 in 10 relief appearances.
Kline, the Orioles’ 2012 second-round pick out of Virginia and a Frederick native, made his major league debut in the April 20 doubleheader against the Twins, pitching a 1-2-3 inning before giving up two home runs in the next inning. He struggled with slider command in the outing, allowing the Twins to capitalize in fastball counts. Kline said he’s put an emphasis on his off-speed pitches since returning to Norfolk after the outing.
"I started working on that literally every single day, just waiting on the opportunity to come back up here,” Kline said. “It came a lot sooner than I thought."
Ortiz was acquired along with infielder Jonathan Villar in last season’s trade that sent second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the Milwaukee Brewers. Ortiz, 23, made his debut last season with two September appearances. He said he dropped 25 pounds in the offseason by minimizing carbs and is down to 245 pounds, which has allowed him to better drive toward home plate. Ortiz was optioned after the game.
Mancini out of lineup
American League hits leader Trey Mancini was out of the Orioles’ lineup Sunday after exiting Saturday’s defeat with a bruise on his right index finger, the result of taking a fastball off it during his first inning at-bat.
Mancini said he is hopeful to be able to grip a bat by Monday, with Hyde saying the team expects Mancini to avoid an IL stint.
“He’s pretty sore, but I think we got really lucky that it’s not broken,” Hyde said. “Obviously got him in a bad spot, and he’s pretty sore. But he feels like he should be ready soon. We’ll see. The finger is always kind of tricky. But we’re lucky it is not broken.”
Armstrong claimed from Seattle
With the Orioles looking for innings wherever they can get them, the team claimed right-hander Shawn Armstrong off waivers from the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Ortiz being optioned likely opens a 25-man roster spot for Armstrong, who has allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings for a 14.73 ERA. In 57 career games across parts of five seasons with the Mariners and Cleveland Indians, Armstrong, 28, has a 3.65 ERA.
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The Mariners designated Armstrong for assignment Friday to promote left-hander Justus Sheffield. Sheffield was then optioned to add right-hander Mike Wright, who the Mariners acquired in a trade with the Orioles for minor league infielder Ryne Ogren after Baltimore designated Wright for assignment.