CLEVELAND — Left-handed reliever Brian Matusz's eight-game suspension for having an alleged "foreign substance" on his right forearm was upheld Friday, according to an industry source.
Matusz had his appeal heard before Wednesday's game in Houston, and the Orioles were optimistic that the penalty would be reduced if not overturned, especially since there wasn't anything discernible on Matusz's arm. The team said rosin created a stickiness on Matusz's arm.
Even more alarming to the Orioles was the fact that Milwaukee Brewers reliever Will Smith had his suspension reduced from eight games to six. Major League Baseball does not comment on appeals, but it is believed that the fact that Smith pitched in more games (25) than Matusz (17) played a role in the reduction. Since Smith pitches more often, a six-game suspension was considered the same penalty as eight games for Matusz.
"I don't think anybody's happy with it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We all have a lot of personal thoughts about it. It doesn't do any good to hash them out right now. You could debate it forever. I just try to keep in mind the crux of where pitchers [are]. It's rosin and sweat. ... The idea is to penalize the club when a player does that, they've certainly been able to do that.
"I'm sure they've got good reasons and process in place to look at it. Obviously, I'm biased. I have a lot of honest knowledge of what exactly went down, so you have to live with the decision and move on. When it gets to something like that, you shouldn't be surprised at anything. You know the facts, but you also have respect for what they have to go [through].
After the Orioles received word of the ruling Friday, Matusz left the club to report to the team's spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., where the team hopes he will be allowed to pitch in extended spring games to stay fresh.
"I don't want him to go 12 days without pitching," Showalter said. "If I knew how the thing was going to go down, I probably would have pitched him the last eight days in a row. He's going to pitch tomorrow and every other day down there."
Before Friday's game, the Orioles purchased the contract of left-handed reliever Cesar Cabral from Triple-A Norfolk. Cabral has not allowed an earned run in 21 2/3 innings at Double-A Bowie and Norfolk, allowing 14 hits with 25 strikeouts and four walks.
Showalter said he would use Cabral much like he used Matusz. Cabral held left-handers to a .120 average at Norfolk. The 26-year-old pitched briefly in the majors with the New York Yankees in 2013 and 2014, allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings over 12 relief appearances.
"Guys evolve," Showalter said. "He's a young left-hander. He's had a little time in the big leagues, not a big sampling. But I don't know what else a guy can do at the level below this one to be thought of as a possible promotion. We've been watching it. … I'll have no hesitation to use him."
Orioles designate Cabrera, call up Navarro
The Orioles designated infielder Everth Cabrera for assignment Friday and recalled infielder Rey Navarro from Norfolk.
Cabrera, who signed a $2.4 million contract in February, hit just .208/.250/.229 in 29 games for the Orioles, including 27 at shortstop. He was just 3-for-28 in his last 11 games with the club.
Designating Cabrera allowed the Orioles to open up a 40-man roster spot to activate Wieters and purchase Cabral's contract.
"It took some maneuvering with the roster," Showalter said. "Everth, I was really impressed with the conversation. He was very appreciative of the opportunity and it will be interesting if he wants to make the decision to come back to us in Norfolk or not."
Cabrera can't be optioned to the minors, so he will have to clear waivers before being outrighted to Triple-A. Because he has five years of MLB service time, Cabrera can refuse an outright assignment. Any team that claims him would have to pick up the remaining portion of his salary for this season.
Norris to return Sunday
Showalter announced that right-hander Bud Norris will make his first start off the DL in Sunday's series finale against the Indians.
Rookie right-hander Mike Wright, who was in line to start Sunday, was optioned to Norfolk before Friday's game. There was some consideration to keeping Wright in the bullpen with the big league club, but the decision was made so he can keep starting at Norfolk. He will start for the Tides on Sunday.
Norris threw four scoreless, hitless innings in his final rehab start Wednesday. He threw just 57 pitches in that game so he could still start on short rest Sunday.
Around the horn
Shortstop J.J. Hardy returned to the Orioles' starting lineup after not starting the past four games with discomfort in his left side. ... Second baseman Jonathan Schoop had eight plate appearances in an extended spring game in Sarasota on Friday, going 3-for-5 with three walks. … Right-hander Kevin Gausman will make his first start since coming off the DL on Saturday, pitching three innings or 45 pitches for high Single-A Frederick at Wilmington. … The Orioles named Double-A Bowie first baseman Trey Mancini and low Single-A left-hander Donnie Hart the organization's Player and Pitcher of the Month for May. Mancini, who was promoted to Bowie from Frederick on Thursday, led the Carolina League with a .362 average in May and hit eight doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs. Hart was 1-0 with five saves in May and didn't allow a run in his 7 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking two. … Minor league catcher Jonah Heim could avoid surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in his left foot after seeing a specialist. … Bowie catcher Chris O'Brien, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Ryan Webb trade, had surgery on his right labrum Friday.