On the day Triple-A Norfolk designated hitter Pedro Álvarez was named to the International League's postseason All-Star team, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the slugger is one of several candidates to come north to Baltimore when rosters expand on Sept. 1.
"It's somebody we're considering adding, as are about eight to 10 others down there," Showalter said before Wednesday's game. "The minicamp starts on [Sept. 8]. They travel on [Sept. 8]. You could ask that same question about a lot of other guys. Obviously, because of our history with Pedro and knowing what he's capable of, it's a little more relevant."
Álvarez, who hit 22 home runs while batting .249/.332/.504 last year with the Orioles as a platoon designated hitter, re-signed on a minor league contract late this spring and attempted to learn to play the outfield to make himself more valuable to the major league club.
That experiment was abandoned midseason, but Álvarez still entered Wednesday batting .241 with 26 home runs and a .742 OPS for the Tides. His midseason contract opt-out passed in June with the Orioles essentially granting him the right to leave for a major league opportunity at any time, but none have come up, and contract issues have complicated their own desire to add him.
One consideration that could keep Álvarez from coming up on Sept. 1, when rosters can expand past 25 players, is the problem of 40-man roster space.
"We're obviously going to have to take a third catcher who's going to require a roster spot," Showalter said. "J.J. [Hardy] is going to require a roster spot. We're at 39 now. You've got a couple other guys you're thinking about that are nonroster. You're also going to get [Joey] Rickard back."
The Orioles need that open 40-man roster spot to facilitate any possible waiver trades before Thursday's deadline, too.
Showalter has said he expects a third catcher and a pitcher to be part of the first wave of call-ups on Sept. 1, with others coming after the minor league seasons end on Sept. 5.
Castro cruises again
With 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief behind right-hander Ubaldo Jiménez, Miguel Castro went even further to advance his case to be a starting pitcher at some point — if not this year, then certainly in the future.
"It's one of those things, you take him out and who's going to fill his shoes?" Showalter said. "That's been an important role for us, but certainly I think everybody in the back of their minds, you see a pitcher with three pitches pitch extended innings, you certainly consider that and I'm sure you understand that we have."
Castro lowered his ERA to 2.47, and has now made three relief appearances longer than the starter who preceded him after coming in Wednesday after 2 2/3 innings from Jiménez.
Hardy's holding pattern
As Hardy works his way back from a fractured wrist that has kept him out for over two months, Showalter said the Orioles are still unsure when he'll be activated.
"That'll be a conversation we have with him after [Aug. 31]," Showalter said. "We'll just see what he thinks. I think the longest, obviously, he could stay there is [Sept. 4]. He's not going to be a guy who's going to go to Sarasota. We think he's further along than that. I would say some time between [Sept. 1 and Sept. 4].
"He's just going through that spring training shoulder period. It's just a thing where you know your players, what Adam Jones has to go through in the spring and you don't get alarmed by it, even though you watch it more cautiously as they get older. ... Something crops up and it's normal. That's the great thing about having continuity with staff, [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells] will say this comes up every spring and it'll be X number of days and he'll work through it."
Around the horn
Showalter said right-hander Hunter Harvey, who hasn't allowed a run in 15 2/3 innings of rehabilitation games on his way back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction, has one more start left this season. Harvey has a 0.83 WHIP, 25 strikeouts and five walks while allowing eight hits on the season. … Right-hander Alec Asher allowed seven earned runs in 1 2/3 innings Wednesday for Triple-A Norfolk.