The Orioles face another difficult roster decision before Wednesday's game and it's likely the club will lose a key piece when making room for right-hander Kevin Gausman, who is scheduled to start the middle game of the ongoing series at Yankee Stadium.
Gausman was with the major league club Tuesday under taxi-squad rules, so the Orioles will have to make a move by Wednesday at 4 p.m.
A position player is still likely to come off a 25-man roster with little flexibility, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before Tuesday's game that executive vice president Dan Duquette was maneuvering through some trade possibilities.
"It's tough," Showalter said. "Some things could happen. I know Dan is working on a lot of different things that could make it maybe not as difficult as pure roster goes. I don't know. We've got some irons in the fire, balls in the air.
"I think we've got an idea if nothing else happens how we're going to do it. It's a good sign that none of our moves are really easy. We've got some quality people."
The Orioles would like to avoid reverting to a six-man bullpen and at this point, none of the club's existing seven relievers can be optioned to the minor leagues without going passing through waivers.
The club sent Ryan Flaherty — one of the team's few players with minor league options — to the minors two weeks ago, but brought him back up less than 48 hours later as part of a roster loophole involving the paternity list.
Unless the Orioles send Flaherty to the minors again — a move that doesn't seem likely given his flexibility as the team's utility man — that only leaves trading or releasing from the team's glut of corner outfielders.
That group of outfielders includes left-handed-hitting Travis Snider and David Lough, as well as right-handed hitters Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce.
Chris Parmelee is another outfielder, but he has been exclusively playing first base since Chris Davis moved to right field. Despite playing first base regularly, Parmelee is just 6-for-37 (.162) over his 13 games before Tuesday and could be a candidate to come off the roster.
None of the five can be sent to the minors without passing through waivers.
Gausman returns to face Yankees
Gausman's most recent trip to the minor leagues was on his own suggestion, as he approached pitching coach Dave Wallace before the All-Star break about the possibility of returning to Triple-A Norfolk in order to continue getting regular work.
Because Gausman had made just three big league starts since returning to starting after coming off the disabled list, he said it felt like he was still in spring training mode stretching out his innings. So he wanted to remain in a regular five-day routine over the break while continuing to build up his innings.
He returns to the Orioles rotation Wednesday to start against the Yankees following two successful starts with Norfolk.
"Now I think I have six starts under my belt and just getting into that routine is definitely big," Gausman said.
In two starts with Norfolk, Gausman allowed two earned runs over 11 innings, allowing nine hits and striking out 11 with four walks. In his most recent outing, Gausman allowed two earned runs on six hits over six innings Friday, striking out eight and walking none.
After being shuttled between the majors and Triple-A several times since his debut in 2013, Gausman isn't assuming he is back in the Orioles rotation for good.
"If I pitch one inning [Wednesday], I'm probably going to be optioned after that," he said. "It's all about keeping those guys fresh down there. … We have to keep those guys healthy out there and that's really our main focus."
It's a modest sample size, but Gausman has pitched well at Yankee Stadium, posting a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and three walks over four appearances. He has made just one previous start in The Bronx, allowing two runs on three hits over five innings on Sept. 25, 2014 in Derek Jeter's final home game.
"I think I like facing their lineup," Gausman said. "Any time I face a lot of lefties, I feel pretty comfortable with it. Obviously, they have a lot of guys and it's a tough lineup and they're playing good baseball. They really have been all year. You just try to minimize [the damage]. They have so many guys who can have an effect on the game throughout the entire lineup, so it's definitely tough."
Jones named O's Heart and Hustle Award nominee
Center fielder Adam Jones was named the Orioles' nominee for this year's MLB Players Alumni Association Heart and Hustle Award, given to players who "demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game."
One player from each team is selected with one overall winner chosen from the 30 nominees. The winner will be announced Nov. 10.
It is the only award in baseball that is voted on by former players. The players union formed 30 committees consisting of alumni with established relationships to each team.
Jones will be recognized before an upcoming home game.
Around the horn
After going 3-for-5 on Sunday, Jones is leading all major league hitters with a .481 average (26-for-54) on Sundays, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He also has six homers and 20 RBIs in 13 Sunday games this season. … The Orioles entered Tuesday having committed the fewest errors in the American League (39) and the second-fewest in the majors (Los Angeles Dodgers, 38). The Orioles also lead the AL with a .988 fielding percentage, the second-best mark in baseball. … Former Orioles farmhand Ty Kelly was designated for assignment by the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. Kelly, the Orioles' 13th-round draft pick in 2009, was acquired by St. Louis last offseason in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, who acquired him from the Orioles in June 2013 for outfielder Eric Thames. Thames never played for the Orioles, logging 36 games for Norfolk.