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Orioles' early winning ways, 'opener' strategy putting stress on bullpen

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

If there's one drawback to the Orioles' 3-1 start entering Tuesday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, it's the amount of relief pitching — intentionally and unintentionally — manager Brandon Hyde has needed to secure those wins.

From Saturday's "opener" bullpen game that essentially required nine innings from relievers to the 5 1/3 innings behind Dylan Bundy on Sunday, the Orioles arrived in Toronto with a short bullpen, and all three relievers Hyde had available Monday — Pedro Araujo, Mike Wright, and Richard Bleier — pitched.

With another bullpen game started by Nate Karns on Wednesday looming, Hyde said that wouldn't influence how he used the bullpen Tuesday.

"We're definitely not at full strength because of the New York series," Hyde said. "It is what it is right now. We'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. We're going to try to win the game tonight. I'm obviously not going to certain guys that I'm going to be much more careful with than others because of what they did in New York. But I'm going to try to win the game tonight."

In the first Karns start, Hyde used both Jimmy Yacabonis (three innings) and Miguel Castro (two innings) before bringing in Mychal Givens for the eighth inning and needing Wright to pick up a struggling Bleier in the ninth.

Neither Yacabonis nor Castro has pitched since, though Castro started warming up behind Bleier in the ninth inning Monday just in case he was required. Givens threw a career-high 49 pitches Sunday and might not be available again Tuesday, and Bleier hasn't pitched on back-to-back days yet.

Hyde will be hoping for a deep start from Cashner, who is pitching on full rest after going on short rest on Opening Day, as he's unsure if Karns will be able to pitch more than the two innings he gave the Orioles on Saturday when he pitches again Wednesday.

"Would I love to extend him past two?" Hyde said. "Yeah, I would love that. I just don't know how he's going to feel, if we're able to extend him a little bit."

Karns was meant to be a starter earlier in camp, but didn't recover well after his first outing and began working on a reliever schedule instead. Hyde said he didn't know if it was possible for him to build up the way that would be required to give starter-length outings.

"I think it's too early to tell," Hyde said. "He bounced back good after the two innings in New York, but he didn't have a full build-up in spring training, obviously, because of the setback. I think we're really playing it by ear with him. We want to keep him on the field. We want to keep him healthy. That's our main concern right now."

Susac traded

On the eve of minor league Opening Day, catcher Andrew Susac was traded to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations, the Orioles announced.

Susac, who had a brief spell with the Orioles last year, was set to begin at Triple-A Norfolk along with Chance Sisco and Carlos Pérez.

Around the horn

Right-hander Alex Cobb remains on track to start Thursday's home-opener against the New York Yankees. ... Shortstop Richie Martin was on the bench for the first time Tuesday for a scheduled day off and said it wasn't related to being hit in the elbow with a pitch Monday. Likewise, Bleier, who was hit with a line drive on the mound Monday, had a bruise but nothing more serious.

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