Rookie right-hander returns to rotation while veteran righty awaits fate
Brittany Ghiroli and Derek Wetmore
BALTIMORE -- Seeking to bolster their overworked bullpen, the Orioles optioned Freddy Garcia and recalled rookie Kevin Gausman from Triple-A Norfolk prior to Monday's series opener against the Indians.
The veteran Garcia lasted 2 1/3 innings against Toronto on Sunday, surrendering seven earned runs in the Orioles' loss, and will head home to Miami while his next step remains undecided. Garcia -- who said that he has no plans to retire -- will become a free agent if he chooses to decline the assignment.
"I did my job for a little bit, and the last couple of starts, no," said Garcia, who recorded a 5.77 ERA over 53 innings, earning a rotation spot after a solid campaign with Norfolk. "So that's this game. Especially here [in Baltimore], they make a lot of moves. So it's my turn, I guess."
Gausman, who is an option to pitch on Friday in Garcia's spot, will work out of the bullpen for the next few days. With long man T.J. McFarland picking up 4 1/3 innings on Sunday, the Orioles need some length available, and the 22-year-old Gausman is on turn, having been slated to start for Norfolk following Monday's off-day.
"I hope we don't need it, but you better prepare for it," manager Buck Showalter said of having a pitcher available for multiple innings on Monday. "[We] would need a long guy tomorrow, too.
"It was [Gausman's] scheduled day, so he was the guy that fit our needs. [We] would have loved to [have] left him there, everybody would have. But we had a need, and other options weren't available, so we did that when he got off the bus last night."
Gausman, the Orioles' No. 2 prospect, was optioned to Norfolk after his June 13 start against the Red Sox. He exited in line for his first Major League victory but took a no-decision in an eventual 13-inning O's win. The 22-year-old has made five starts for the Orioles, going 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA after making the jump from Double-A Bowie. He has allowed 21 earned runs over 24 2/3 innings, with 20 strikeouts and six walks.
"It'll be a little different," Gausman said of being in the bullpen. "But at the same time, that's what I did in Spring Training, pretty much. That's something that'll be good for me. I kind of got into a little routine when I was in Spring Training [in terms of] how many pitches it took me to get ready. Obviously, you don't have too much time, but you just try to get ready as fast as you can. That's something in Spring Training that I tried to learn."
Depending on how he is used, Gausman could start on Friday, or the Orioles could also use McFarland. Tsuyoshi Wada has thrown better for Triple-A Norfolk, but Showalter said that he is not an option yet and will continue in Norfolk's rotation. The Orioles could add someone else from the Tides to make that spot start in Garcia's place.
Garcia, who said he enjoyed his time with the Orioles "very much," didn't rule out a possible return to the organization should he not get an opportunity to latch on at the big league level elsewhere.