ATLANTA — Orioles rookie infielder Steve Wilkerson got the unique opportunity to collect his first major league hit against his hometown Atlanta Braves on Friday night before the team's roster situation bit him and he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk so the club could add reliever Donnie Hart.
Wilkerson’s ninth-inning, pinch-hit single drove in a run as part of the Orioles' six-run inning, and he made a pair of impressive defensive plays to keep the game going in extra innings. Even if his return to the minors after three games with the Orioles came in a series when he had around 100 family and friends in the stands to watch, he's glad those who were at SunTrust Park on Friday got to see his first hit after the rain delay Wednesday in Washington meant they couldn't see his debut in the ninth inning of that game.
"It was really cool," Wilkerson said. "D.C. was a little bit interesting of a scenario for that game, getting the rain delay, and they had to take off. But coming back here last night and getting the hit in front of my family and friends was really special."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Wilkerson's assignment back to the Tides was a result of circumstance, and nothing he did really contributed to that. The Orioles used Tanner Scott, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Darren O'Day, Miguel Castro and Mike Wright Jr. for eight combined innings of relief in Friday's 10-7, 15-inning win.
"We'd have liked to have kept him," Showalter said. "He presented himself well. We just needed a pitcher today, and Donnie was our best option."
Hart has a 1.35 ERA in the majors over six appearances in his first four stints on the roster this season, with a 2.55 ERA for the Tides.
Mancini out again
Despite pinch-hitting in the eighth inning of Friday's win, left fielder Trey Mancini was left out of the starting lineup Saturday for a third straight game with neck soreness.
Showalter said Mancini didn't necessarily need another day, but could use one to get back to close to full health.
"He's close," Showalter said. "He's available. A National League game made it a little tough, but I thought one more game would get him back to 100 percent."
Joseph starts again
Catcher Caleb Joseph has now started all five games since he returned from Norfolk on Tuesday, and Showalter said that's both because of the way he's played and a way to keep it going.
Joseph entered Saturday with three hits, including two doubles, and an RBI in 16 plate appearances since returning, but Showalter noted how many of his outs were loud ones. He's also thrown out a pair of would-be base stealers and made two run-saving tags at the plate.
"He's swinging the bat well, catching well and did all the things we've asked him to do," Showalter said. "I don't think anybody has hit into tougher luck than he has since he got back. He's catching, throwing, hitting well, and we'd like to keep him in that mode."
Around the horn
The Orioles announced this week that they've signed the following draft picks: left-hander Drew Rom (fourth round), left-hander Yeankrlos Lleras (sixth round), right-hander Ryan Conroy (eighth round), outfielder Doran Turchin (14th round), left-hander Cody Hacker (15th round), infielder Trevor Putzig (17th round), outfielder Andrew Jayne (19th round), left-hander Nick Meservey (21st round), outfielder Trey Whitley (28th round) and infielder John Ham (31st round).