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The Orioles claimed reliever Shawn Armstrong off waivers from the Mariners on Sunday.
The Orioles claimed reliever Shawn Armstrong off waivers from the Mariners on Sunday. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

No one will have to introduce new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong to the concept of "Smaltimore." He's living it right as he joins the team.

Armstrong, claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, is college teammates from East Carolina and close friends with former Orioles reliever Mike Wright, who was designated for assignment April 21 and traded to the Mariners.

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The two didn't overlap in Seattle — Armstrong was designated for assignment just before Wright arrived — but Wright told reporters in Seattle that Armstrong is his "best friend from college."

So when Armstrong flew from Seattle to Baltimore to get settled before joining the Orioles in Chicago, he didn't have to look too hard for a place to live.

This is a 2019 photo of Shawn Armstrong of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. This image reflects the Seattle Mariners active roster as of Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
This is a 2019 photo of Shawn Armstrong of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. This image reflects the Seattle Mariners active roster as of Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) (Charlie Riedel / AP)

"We actually talked about that last night, Mike and his wife, Madison," Armstrong said. "It is kind of ironic, considering I'm moving right into his apartment and everything else too. We basically did just switch places. I hope all the best for him, and we're both excited for our new opportunity."

Armstrong said they played each other in the state tournament in high school in 2008, became close friends after their first year at ECU, and were in each other's weddings.

Armstrong, who began his career with the Cleveland Indians before he was dealt to the Mariners, entered 2019 with a 2.95 ERA. He had an oblique injury in spring training that impacted how he prepared, and allowed six earned runs in four games before he was cut loose.

The Orioles had way more roster moves than victories during the first full month of the season, but that's to be expected in the early stages of a rebuilding project.

"Any time you go to a new place, new teammates, new ways of coaching, new ways of playing the game, it's definitely a fresh start," Armstrong said. "Coming off an injury in Seattle, I didn't have the best start that I wanted to this year, obviously, but it's a new opportunity here and I'm ready to put the past in the past and get things rolling here."

Santander the 26th man

Outfielder Anthony Santander joined the Orioles on Wednesday as the 26th man for the second half of the doubleheader, giving manager Brandon Hyde a true outfield option after using utility infielders Hanser Alberto and Stevie Wilkerson there for most of the last week.

Trey Mancini is back in the lineup after missing two games with a finger bruise, but Hyde said he's one of several Orioles who might just play once out of the two games.

"Obviously with the rainout yesterday and the off-day tomorrow, we feel pretty good about our pitching. A little bit beat up from the position-player standpoint," Hyde said. "There's a couple guys that I don't want to go both games, so Tony's going to be in there. I'm looking forward to watching him play. He's been swinging the bat good this last week there in Norfolk, and obviously had a really good spring training. We're happy to have him."

After batting .333 with a 1.086 OPS and two home runs in spring training, Santander has heated up for Triple-A Norfolk. He homered Tuesday for his fifth multi-hit game in his last eight, and is batting .351 (13-for-37) over that span to bring his season average to .277.

The Orioles gave up 73 home runs in the first 30 games of the season.

"I think it's been going very well," Santander said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón. "Making swings, making solid contact, hard contact and working had down there so when the opportunity comes to be called up, hopefully that can help the team."

Around the horn

Hyde was happy Sucre accepted a minor league assignment after being designated for assignment on Sunday, even if his hope was that Sucre would get a major league job somewhere. ... Outfielder Mark Trumbo (knee) is in a running progression, right-hander Alex Cobb is getting treatment on his back in Baltimore, and outfielder Austin Hays (thumb) is taking live batting practice and will be in extended spring training games later this week, Hyde said.

The Orioles' rebuild is still in its infancy, but there's still plenty to learn from the first month of the season as the club gets up to speed under a new front office and coaching staff.

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