ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Manager Buck Showalter said now that Rule 5 right-hander Jason Garcia is on the 25-man roster, he will pitch for the Orioles. It's impossible, he said, to hide a pitcher in the majors these days.
"He'll pitch. You can't play in the American League without seven pitchers pitching," Showalter said.
In order to keep the 22-year-old Garcia for 2016 and beyond, he has to remain with the club for the rest of the year. Although he has a big arm — he can get his fastball up to the high 90s — he has not had much success at the major league level. He allowed 11 hits, 11 walks and nine earned runs in 13 2/3 innings for the Orioles before going on the major league disabled list May 13 with right shoulder tendinitis.
The hard thrower made nine rehab appearances at Double-A Bowie, going 1-2 with a 4.20 ERA while striking out 14 and walking nine in 15 innings. His rehabilitation assignment had expired and the Orioles needed to make a call on his future, so they sent rookie Mychal Givens back to Bowie on Thursday to make room for Garcia.
Showalter said the enormity of the decision has been lessened by the presence of lefty T.J. McFarland, who can pitch multiple innings, giving the manager a better chance to pick his spots for Garcia.
"That's one of the reasons why Mac's here, too," Showalter said. "Mac gives us real versatility and coverage for everybody and he's made our bullpen better when he's here."
It's unusual for a team in a pennant race to have to carry a Rule 5 player, but the Orioles did in 2012 with Ryan Flaherty and in 2013 with McFarland. And now they'll try it again with Garcia.
"You can say the same thing about Flaherty and McFarland and they were contributors. So maybe a year or two from now we'll be saying the same thing about Jason," Showalter said. "It's not like you don't have people like him in your system; you just try to get as many as you can. There's not a better way to acquire players for the investment than the Rule 5 draft, for us especially."
Davis' impressive and familiar company
Chris Davis' torrid second half has put him into some pretty lofty company among AL sluggers.
And that includes one of his former Orioles teammates who is tearing up the league on the other side of the country — a guy Davis will see early next week.
Although Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays, Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals and Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees are having tremendous second halves so far, an argument can be made that the only AL hitter that's outpacing Davis since mid-July is Nelson Cruz, who left the Orioles in the offseason for a four-year deal with the Seattle Mariners.
Heading into Friday night's action, Davis is leading all major leaguers with 27 RBIs in 19 games since the break. He had bashed nine homers, including two grand slams in a span of 12 days, and was hitting .306 in the second half. All nine homers and 26 of his RBIs have come in his past 15 games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only other players in modern franchise history to have similar 15-game runs are Jim Gentile (1961), Cal Ripken Jr. (1996) and Albert Belle (2000).
Cruz entered Friday with 10 homers, 14 RBIs and a .384 average since the All-Star break. He homered in five straight games from July 31 to Aug. 4, the second time Cruz has had such a streak this season. According to Elias, he is one of only five players in baseball history to homer in five consecutive games twice in the same season, joining Harmon Killebrew (1970), Frank Thomas (1994), Barry Bonds (2001) and Chase Utley (2008).
The Orioles play a three-game series in Seattle starting Monday.
Tillman's ankle improving, will pitch Sunday or Monday
Right-hander Chris Tillman tested his left ankle with a bullpen session Friday in Anaheim, and Showalter said the initial reports were that he's fine and will start a game by Monday.
"He said he's even better today," Showalter said. "He is either [starting] Sunday or Monday."
Showalter said during his pregame press conference Friday that he knew which way he was leaning, but first wanted to talk to pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti before making it official.
If Tillman pitches Monday in Seattle, then Miguel Gonzalez will start on regular rest Sunday in the series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.