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Orioles add right-hander Matt Wotherspoon, only to send him back to Triple-A after loss

The Orioles designated reliever Pedro Araujo for assignment Wednesday, just over one week before he would have fulfilled his Rule 5 roster requirements and been able to be optioned to the minors. They replaced him by selecting the contract of right-hander Matt Wotherspoon from Triple-A Norfolk.

“[Wotherspoon’s] going to give us some length and a little bit of depth in the bullpen,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Excited for him — really cool moment to watch him walk into the clubhouse, first day in the big leagues. Credit goes to him for everything he's put in to be here today.”

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Wotherspoon was optioned back to Norfolk after the Orioles’ 5-3 loss Wednesday to the Toronto Blue Jays. He allowed three runs on four hits in two innings, including a solo home run to Randal Grichuk and two-run double by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the eighth inning.

Araujo, 25, was selected in the Rule 5 draft ahead of the 2018 season but missed most of the year with an elbow injury. He had to be on the roster for 16 total days this season before he could be optioned to the minors. But after a rough spring, Araujo allowed a two-run home run in his only appearance of the season Monday, and didn't get another chance.

“He's going to be put on waivers for a couple days, and I'm hoping somehow we can get him back,” Hyde said. “I liked him a lot, I think he's got some upside. Didn't really get a fair shake at the start of this season with the way the games played out, but I'm really hoping the best for him, and I hope some way, some time he can get back here.”

As a Rule 5 player, Araujo will be offered on waivers to all 29 other teams before the Orioles must offer to return him to the Chicago Cubs, his original club.

Wotherspoon, 27, was acquired from the New York Yankees in 2017 in one of the Orioles' many trades for international signing bonus slots. He has spent the past year and a half at Norfolk. He had a 2.20 ERA in 2017, and a 4.60 ERA in 39 games (12 starts) for the Tides last year.

That's where he was Wednesday for a workout when he was told to see manager Gary Kendall.

"He informed me that I was coming to Toronto tonight, but I wasn't positive that I was going to be activated for today, so I had to wait a little while to find that out," Wotherspoon said.

Wotherspoon made his impression on the new Orioles regime as an extra pitcher in spring training, pitching six times and not walking anyone while striking out five. He allowed a run on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.

"I felt I threw the ball pretty well," Wotherspoon said. "I tried to attack the strike zone, and I'm not sure if I walked any batters while I was over there. I definitely think it helped gain the trust of some of the newer guys."

After five seasons in the minors, Wotherspoon said it was a "full rush of emotions" to hear he was being summoned to the majors for the first time, though it was tempered some by the uncertainty of whether he'd be activated.

"I think a lot of excitement," Wotherspoon said. "Definitely some anxiety. Definitely some nerves and jitters, but I'm excited to step on the field and kind of get to playing baseball, where I'm comfortable, and hopefully not thinking about all the outside stuff too much."

Wotherspoon gives the Orioles not only a fresh arm for Wednesday's bullpen game, but another optionable reliever should they need one going forward. The team needs to activate Thursday's starter, Alex Cobb, off the injured list as well.

Rotation going forward

With Cobb starting Thursday and Dylan Bundy and David Hess scheduled to start Saturday and Sunday, the Orioles are getting closer to a regular rotation. Andrew Cashner will presumably follow them Monday, and Cobb could be back on full rest Tuesday. But Hyde said they’re exploring whether they’ll use a traditional fifth starter or keep with the opener strategy to go with a bullpen game once every five games.

“Something we're playing with right now,” Hyde said. “We're kind of tinkering. … We have the four, and with that fifth spot, the spot today, it's kind of undecided right now on what we're doing going forward, to be honest with you.”

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Ready for primetime

Hyde said he’s been apprised of his responsibility to run down the orange carpet on Opening Day, with the primary focuses being on stretching beforehand and getting “my feet up because the carpet might grab me.”

“I'm going to get a good stretch in, and make sure I Deion Sanders it,” Hyde said. “Primetime it all the way down the carpet. High-step to show everybody what we're all about.”

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