The Orioles knew they were going to send rookie right-hander Mychal Givens back to the minor leagues before Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, but wrestled with whether they should option the 25-year-old converted shortstop to Triple-A Norfolk or send him back to Double-A Bowie.
The Orioles promoted Givens, the first member of the team's 2009 draft class to make the majors, from Bowie on Saturday. He warmed up both Saturday and Sunday in Toronto, but didn't get into either game. He finally made his major league debut Wednesday, retiring the Red Sox in order in the eighth inning of the Orioles' 5-1 loss.
It was the team's last opportunity to see how Givens would fare before having to send him back down — the team had to make room to reinstate Miguel Gonzalez from the disabled list to start Thursday.
There was discussion about sending Givens to Triple-A, where he could essentially go back to the minors with a promotion and continue to develop while facing more seasoned hitters. Ultimately, the team decided the send him back to Double-A, where he has flourished under the guidance of Bowie pitching coach Alan Mills.
"There's good to both of them," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's kind of no-lose. There's an experience level in Triple-A, you get more experienced hitters, but where Mychal is — keep in mind he was playing shortstop a couple years ago — you go through a process. … He's got to take what works and what doesn't. Everyone has a real pure heart about it."
Now that Givens — who went unprotected and unselected in the Rule 5 draft in December — has been added to the organization's 40-man roster and performed well in his debut, he makes his way up the list of optionable pitchers who could join the team later when there's a bullpen need.
"I said it a million times, we've got a 36-man pitching staff between here and Bowie and Norfolk. Roster doesn't really matter," Showalter said. "We've got ways to get guys on the roster. I did want to get him in a game before he left and I know they had a couple left-handed hitters. Mychal, when he's right, I think he will be able to defend himself against both of them. I went over the outing today on film and he's got a chance to help us."
Showalter was impressed with Givens' debut, which came on the road at Fenway Park against the middle of the Red Sox order.
"With Mychal, it's kind of 'to be continued,'" Showalter said. "He brings a lot of things that a lot of other pitchers can't. ... You can tell Mike is athletic and gets the other parts of the game. You see his times to the plate, his moves to first, little things you've got to get used to. You can tell he's into the situation of the game even in a short stint. Ball to the right side, he's breaking that way as you should be. Little things like that. Pure stuff will play up here."
Wieters nearing back-to-back outings?
On Thursday, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters made his 11th start at catcher since returning from the DL. Even though Wieters has yet to catch on back-to-back days, he said Thursday that he feels like he's getting closer.
"It feels good and it feels stronger and stronger each day, so hopefully we get there soon," Wieters said. "You know, it works pretty well. I'm really not catching that many less games than I would be if I was catching back to back, especially until the All-Star break."
Asked whether he's aiming to begin working back-to-back games behind the plate near the All-Star break, Wieters indicated it's a possibility.
"We'll see how it feels, but I think the more days that go by, the closer I get," Wieters said. "Being able to play regular games, being able to make regular throws and everything, it feels as close to normal as it can after having surgery on it. So that's the good thing. I'm excited to put more and more games on in a row, but right now, I'm just excited to be able to go out there and play."
Jones might not return Friday
Center fielder Adam Jones missed his seventh game in the Orioles' past nine in Thursday's series finale in Boston. And while Jones said he hoped to return to the lineup for the beginning of the Orioles' seven-game homestand Friday, Showalter said that might not happen.
"Hopefully we'll get Jonesy back shortly," Showalter said. "He had a pretty good jump in how he felt today. In fact, he was kind of fighting to get back in the lineup."
Showalter said that Jones continues to receive treatment and is considered day-to-day.
"He's getting treatment a couple times during the game, too," Showalter said. "He had a pretty good bruise in there. Once we get that bone bruise out of there, he should come quickly."
Jones has missed nine games this season, his most since sitting out 11 in 2011. Jones missed just five total games from 2012 to 2014.
Around the horn
The Orioles acquired Triple-A right-handed reliever Richard Rodriguez from the Houston Astros on Thursday in exchange for a player to be named later or cash, according to an industry source. Rodriguez was 5-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 23 relief appearances with Triple-A Fresno, allowing 32 hits in 42 innings while striking out 36 and walking 10. Rodriguez, 25, has posted a 7-0 record and a 2.94 ERA in 70 1/3 relief innings at Triple-A. … Norfolk right-hander Zach Davies has been named to the U.S. team in next month's All-Star Futures Game on July 12 in Cincinnati. Davies, who is the Orioles' No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America, is 3-4 with a 2.94 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) with the Tides and has allowed three runs or fewer in 12 of his 14 games. … Third baseman Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to seven games Thursday. … Right fielder Delmon Young's fourth-inning single ended an 0-for-13 skid. …Shortstop J.J. Hardy has hit safely in 14 of his past 17 games. … Designated hitter Jimmy Paredes will be signing autographs and longtime Baltimore sportswriter Jim Henneman will be signing his book "Baltimore Orioles: 60 Years of Orioles Magic" at the Orioles team store at the York Galleria in York, Pa., on Monday from 11 a.m. to noon.