Jo-Jo Reyes was trying not to think too much about what would happen. After being designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays on July 23, the 26-year-old left-hander went home to California and waited.
"I was just concentrating on getting back to the form I was [in], just working out back home and figuring out what the problem was and just working on it," said Reyes, who was 5-8 with a 5.40 ERA in 20 starts this season. "Just getting ready for the unexpected and what team was going to pick me up."
"They are a young team, and I know they can hit," Reyes said of his new Orioles teammates. "They are a young group, and once it all comes together, it's going to be fun."
Reyes, a second-round selection of the Atlanta Braves' in 2003, has struggled at times commanding his fastball, which has gotten him into trouble. He allowed 15 runs in his last two starts, prompting Toronto to remove him from the 25-man roster.
But the Orioles felt they had to take a chance on a power lefty who is 41-23 with a 3.51 ERA in 121 minor league games.
"Not many guys floating around the locker room carrying around as much minor league success as he's had," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He hasn't been able to carry it over to this level yet. But you can say that about a lot of our guys. Keep in mind, this guy is only 26."
Reyes made his Orioles debut Wednesday night, entering in relief of Brad Bergesen, who had loaded the bases with just one out. Reyes induced Alex Gordon to fly out to center and got Melky Cabrera on a comebacker, getting out of the inning without allowing a run to score.
He may end up in the rotation, and Showalter mentioned him as a slight possibility for Saturday's open start. But he hasn't pitched since July 22, so he most likely will stay in the bullpen for a while.
Hendrickson to Norfolk
Veteran lefty Mark Hendrickson, who was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in seven games, was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Reyes on the roster.
When the 37-year-old Hendrickson's contract was purchased July 9, the sides agreed he could be optioned to the minors instead of becoming a free agent if taken off the active roster. He will fly home to York, Pa., and spend time with his family before reporting to the Tides on Saturday or Sunday.
"I try to tell these young guys, too, that sometimes these moves, we don't always have to agree with them," Hendrickson said. "But until we want to hang up our spikes and go be a GM, then we just deal with them the best we can, and hopefully our families deal with them the best they can. You try to take something from every experience, whether it is good or bad, because it's kind of the nature of the business."
Showalter said there wasn't a need for a fourth lefty in the bullpen and Troy Patton (0-0, 4.15 ERA) has been pitching relatively well. Patton was thought to be a candidate to be sent out because he was supposed to leave the team to attend a hearing Thursday in Houston concerning his arrest on drunken-driving charges last winter. But the hearing was postponed until Aug. 29, so Hendrickson became the odd man out.
"Mark loves the Orioles; he's been a soldier for us," Showalter said. "And he'll be back. He's good people."
Britton ready for next start
Rookie Zach Britton, who allowed a combined 17 runs (13 earned) and didn't make it out of the first inning in either of his past two big league starts, will take the hill Thursday against the Kansas City Royals. He's hoping the work he has done since recording just one out in Saturday's bashing by the New York Yankees (nine runs, six earned, in one-third of an inning) will pay off.
"I was looking at my velocity, it's still the same. My movement on the pitches isn't the same," Britton said. "So now I got to concentrate more on throwing to locations instead of just letting my sinker go."
After that start, several veteran Orioles took Britton aside, including closer Kevin Gregg, who spoke with Britton for about two hours Sunday. The conversation has helped him narrow his focus and better plan what he wants to do in his next start.
"All the older guys I've talked to they feel like it's more of a mental approach, a preparation thing for me," he said. "You can only get by on talent for so long in the big leagues."
Hoes, Bundy win awards
Double-A Bowie infielder-outfielder LJ Hoes and Single-A Frederick right-hander Bobby Bundy were named the Orioles' organization's player and pitcher of the month for July.
Hoes, a Mitchellville resident, hit .349 with six doubles, four homers, 21 RBIs and seven stolen bases in July. The 2008 third-round pick made his debut for the Baysox on May 23. A second baseman in the lower minors, Hoes, 21, has played almost exclusively in left field for Bowie. He won last week's Eastern League Player of the Week award and built on that with two homers in Tuesday's doubleheader.
Bundy, 21, was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in July and was 11-5 with a 2.75 ERA in 20 starts for Frederick. His next start is expected to be for Bowie. An eighth-round choice in 2008, Bundy led the Carolina League in wins and was tied for fourth in strikeouts with 100.
Bundy is the older brother of the Orioles' top pick in the 2011 draft, Oklahoma high school right-hander Dylan Bundy.
Around the horn
Tommy Hunter will make his first start for the Orioles on Friday at Camden Yards against the Blue Jays. He made his Orioles debut with one inning in relief Tuesday. … Saturday's starter is undetermined, but Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen are the most likely candidates. … The Orioles signed John Ruettiger, their eighth-round pick from Arizona State. They have signed seven of their top 10, with the exception of Bundy (first), Jason Esposito (second) and Nick Delmonico (sixth). Ruettiger is the nephew of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger of Notre Dame fame. … The club agreed to terms with 33-year-old right-hander Willie Eyre on a minor league contract, pending a physical. Eyre, who exercised his Aug. 1 out clause with the Oakland Athletics' organization, was 4-5 with a 3.48 ERA at Triple-A Sacramento. He is 5-6 with a 5.14 ERA in 92 major league games (two starts) with the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins. … Patton hopes to be able to leave the team after the Aug. 28 afternoon game, go to Houston for the court hearing and return by the night game Aug. 29. … Minor league catching instructor Don Werner, who has filled in as the big league bullpen coach, will return to the minors when the Orioles return to Camden Yards. Another interim replacement has not been named.