The Orioles placed left-handed reliever Donnie Hart back on the Triple-A Norfolk shuttle before Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Boston Red Sox, optioning him to the minors to create 25-man roster space for right-hander Yefry Ramirez, who made his major league debut Wednesday.
After he was recalled to replace right-hander Andrew Cashner — who went on the disabled list with a lower back strain — Hart pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the Orioles’ 6-4 loss to Boston on Tuesday night at Camden Yards. He threw 20 pitches in the outing, so would have been seemingly available again Wednesday, but was optioned instead.
Hart spent less than 24 hours with the big league club. This is the fourth time the Orioles have recalled and optioned Hart, with none of those stints lasting more than eight days and three of them lasting three days or fewer.
With Miguel Castro having thrown 2 2/3 innings Tuesday and Darren O’Day and Zach Britton working their way back into high-leverage roles after coming off the DL, to say the Orioles bullpen is at full strength going into Wednesday’s game would be a stretch. The Orioles receive a day off Thursday and another Monday, which should allow a bullpen that’s accounted for 14 innings the past three days regain its footing, though left-hander Richard Bleier left Wednesday’s game with the makings of a lat injury.
Despite allowing nine base runners in 6 2/3 big league innings, Hart has a 1.35 ERA in six relief appearances with the Orioles. He has a 2.66 ERA in 19 appearances with Triple-A Norfolk spanning 23 2/3 innings.
Showalter said the team was awaiting the results of an MRI performed on Cashner’s back. The Orioles are still optimistic that Cashner, whose DL date was backdated to Saturday, will miss just one start.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter talks about pitchers Richard Bleier and Yefry Ramirez after the Orioles' 5-1 loss to the Red Sox. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)
“I got a percentage from [head athletic trainer Brian Ebel], I asked him what percentage would you give that he’s a pitcher again the next time he comes around again,” Showalter said. “And he gave it to me, and it was very favorable, and then again, you could find something in the MRI that could look very differently. You also don’t want to be sitting there a couple days before his start and he has a workday and something flares up and you’re back to square one. The only thing I was concerned about a little bit is that he really hasn’t had this much. This is a little different.”
Showalter said Britton and O’Day felt good and “sore in the right places” after pitching in relief Tuesday. Britton made his season debut after spending the first 66 games on the DL recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon injury, walking three but pitching a scoreless seventh inning. O’Day made his second appearance in three days since coming off the DL, completing a scoreless ninth.