ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Left-hander Brian Duensing made just seven appearances before going on the disabled list and getting surgery on his left elbow, so the Orioles haven't truly seen how the veteran can contribute to their bullpen.
After searching most of the season for a situational lefty, sidearmer Donnie Hart has slid into that role. Duensing's return from the disabled list Monday offers the Orioles another relief option against left-handed hitters down the stretch.
"Obviously, I was keeping tabs while I was away and it's exciting to be back and in the middle of the race," Duensing said. "Hopefully, we can keep it rolling and keep winning some baseball games. … "To be honest, it was getting a little long down there in Sarasota. But I threw quite a few times down there and with Bowie and everything's going well. Arm feels normal, so it's good to be back."
Duensing, who pitched to a 1.29 ERA in three rehab outings at Double-A Bowie, threw multiple innings in all three of his rehab outings for the Baysox, capped by a three-inning outing in his final appearance. Manager Buck Showalter said he could also provide the Orioles with length as T.J. McFarland did as a left-handed long man behind right-handed starters.
"I threw pretty well, had some good outings," Duensing said. "For the most part I was commanding the baseball pretty well with all the pitches. Everything felt good. Took a little while to get my timing back, but I think that's normal when you're off the mound for as long as I was. Everything seemed good."
Despite undergoing surgery to remove a pair of cartilage chips in his elbow joint, Duensing said he knew he'd be back before the end of the season.
"It wasn't really that invasive of a procedure," he said. "They were taking some chips out. It wasn't like they were shaving down spurs or anything like that. I knew I'd be back. I thought maybe it took a little bit longer than I'd like, but I guess it's better safe than sorry and don't push it, you know?"
Jones wins Roberto Clemente award: Center fielder Adam Jones was named the Orioles' nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente Award, which annually recognizes a player from each major league club who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philantrophy and other positive contributions on and off the field.
"It's pretty cool," Jones said. "I mean, Roberto Clemente — I don't do this stuff for awards and stuff, I do it to help out kids. And try to make an impact where I can make an impact."
Jones, who has been the Orioles recipient of the award five times, has long been active in the community. He has been active with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitian Baltimore for several years, most recently donating $75,000 to the Webster Kendrick Boys and Girls Club. He also annually supports the Jackie Robinson Foundation's scholarship program and serves as an honorary chair for the YMCA of Central Maryland's Send a Kid to Camp campaign.
Each team nominates one player and one player is selected from that group to win the Roberto Clemente Award.
"It's good to see a lot of people around baseball help kids in their local communities that support them," Jones said.
Jones will be presented with the Orioles' Roberto Clemente award prior to the Sept. 15 home game.
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Showalter stunned by relief stat: Showalter was caught off guard perusing team statistics and finding out that the Orioles have the fewest relief appearances in the American League.
"That one, I was trying to figure out if I'm reading it right and if that's possible," Showalter said. "… So that just means we had a lot of long relievers pitch a lot of innings and do a good job. Or I think we had a good job of having people here to pitch those innings. I don't think if I like the idea that we had a need for it.
Despite having the fewest relief appearances in the AL (359), the Orioles are fourth in relief innings pitched (460), meaning they had longer relief outings than most teams.
"But it's interesting to see the teams that are 14, 13, 12 (Boston, Kansas City and New York) and the teams that are 1,2, 3 and 4 (Minnesota, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago) and where they are now," Showalter said. "I got it why people scratch their heads a little about us, because that one, I was kinda like….to be last in the American League with the last number of relief appearances [is interesting].
Around the horn: Tuesday marked the anniversary of two major dates in Orioles history. In 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game streak by playing in his 2,131st straight game, at Camden Yards against the California Angels. One year later, hit his 500th career homer, at Camden Yards against the Detroit Tigers.