The Orioles continue to make roster moves at a dizzying pace, the latest occurring Saturday afternoon when third baseman Mark Reynolds was placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique.
To replace Reynolds on the 25-man roster, the Orioles purchased the contract of veteran infielder-outfielder Bill Hall and immediately inserted him into left field and in the seventh spot of the starting lineup against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Hall, who was signed last month after failing to make the New York Yankees out of spring training, was not on the 40-man roster, so the Orioles had to make a corresponding move. They designated 2004 fourth-round pick Brad Bergesen for assignment.
Counting those three transactions, the Orioles have made 20 moves since placing left fielder Nolan Reimold on the 15-day disabled list May 4.
And that won't be the end of it.
Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Xavier Avery is expected to be promoted by the Orioles for Sunday's game — which would give the team a four-man bench since a pitcher likely would be taken off the roster. Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette would neither confirm nor deny Avery's promotion, since it is not official yet. But Avery has been told he is coming up, according to a Tweet from his agency.
The Orioles will have to make another 40-man and 25-man roster move when they promote Avery. That would make 23 roster decisions in nine days.
"I think especially the 40-man roster has been a challenge for the organization and Dan," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We've all been challenged in this business, and we just want the game itself to be the challenge, so that's challenge enough. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. They don't want to hear your problems, and for the most part, they're happy you've got them."
Seven of the players the Orioles had ticketed for the Opening Day roster when spring training began — pitchers Tsuyoshi Wada (elbow), Zach Britton (shoulder) and Matt Lindstrom (right finger), outfielders Reimold (neck) and Endy Chavez (oblique), catcher Taylor Teagarden (back) and Reynolds — are now on the disabled list. And that doesn't include second baseman Brian Roberts (concussion), who is on the 15-day DL and was considered a long shot to be ready for Opening Day.
Showalter said the injuries make it particularly difficult for the organization because the big league club is taking from Norfolk but isn't sending players back. He said he's having daily conversations with Tides manager Ron Johnson.
"Ron and I have been talking a lot lately … and he picks it up on first ring now. 'What do you want now? Who's next?'" Showalter said. "The problem with the moves that I feel bad about is we're taking players but we're not replacing them because they're replacing disabled players. But we have some depth, and I know that they're in the process of doing some things to maintain that."
Reynolds hurt on throw
Reynolds, who had never been on the disabled list, said he felt pain in his oblique while throwing during batting practice Friday. He was not in the starting lineup or available to pinch hit. When he wasn't in the lineup again Saturday against a left-handed pitcher, it was obvious something was wrong.
"It's not too bad, but it's one of those things where if I push it, it'll get worse, so we're going to get it better before anything else happens," said Reynolds, who has hit .191 with two homers and nine RBIs in 27 games. "I was actually throwing and I felt something in my side, so they did a bunch of tests and it's pretty sore and stiff. Hopefully, [after] 15 days, I'll be back out there."
In his past seven games, Reynolds had eight hits in 23 at-bats — a huge upswing from his struggles in April, when he didn't have a homer.
"It [stinks]," he said. "It seems like I was swinging it well, seeing the ball well, and this happens. But it is what it is. You roll with the punches, and hopefully I come back healthy and better."
Hall returns to majors
Hall, 32, was looking for a job in April when the Orioles offered him a chance to play at Norfolk. He was there for only 15 games, and now finds himself back in the big leagues before Memorial Day.
"I wasn't getting itchy. I clearly understand I had a couple weeks off so I need to get into … baseball shape," said Hall, who was hitting .222 with a .269 on-base percentage, two homers and seven RBIs with Norfolk. "I was trying to go down there and [get] back in shape as fast as possible and do the things they were looking for me to do and have a chance to come up here. I accomplished some of those things."
Hall is a career .248 hitter in an 11-season big league career that has spanned six teams. Last season, he batted .211 with two homers in 185 combined at-bats with the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros. In his career, Hall has played 200 or more games at second base, shortstop, third base and in the outfield.
"He's a guy that a lot of teams have always coveted his makeup and his approach and his teammate skills," Showalter said. "He's a guy in the past that has handled left-handed pitching well and can play multiple positions."
Bergesen was once considered a key member of the Orioles' young core of starting pitchers. Now it looks like he might be out of the organization. The Orioles have 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on the 26-year-old right-hander.
Bergesen is 17-24 with a 4.68 ERA in 83 games (59 starts) for the Orioles in his career. If he clears waivers, he can rejoin the Tides. A claiming team would have to pick up what remains of his $800,000 salary.
He did not make the team out of spring training and has been with Norfolk, for which he is 1-2 with a 5.13 ERA in eight games (six starts). He threw five scoreless innings Thursday.
Scott, Pie reunited, sort of
Former Oriole Luke Scott had a strange but close friendship with ex-Orioles outfielder Felix Pie. The two often argued but also were inseparable at times.
Well, some members of the Orioles organization didn't want Scott to be lonely in his trip back to Camden Yards as a member of the Rays. Someone sent a 3-foot Pie "doll" to Scott in the visitor's clubhouse. It was made up of black athletic wrap, wearing Pie's No. 18 road jersey and used batting gloves.
"I just had to start laughing," Scott told Rays reporters. "It's my friend that I miss so much — Felix the Cat. Felix Pie is my amigo, man. They made it for me and sent it over to bring back some good memories of my friend.'"
Pie, incidentally, signed a minor league deal with the Braves on Saturday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Orioles acquire Belfiore
The Orioles have acquired left-handed minor league reliever Mike Belfiore from the Arizona Diamondbacks as the player to be named in April's Josh Bell trade, the club announced.
The 23-year-old was 0-0 with a 2.37 ERA with 28 strikeouts and just five walks in 19 innings this season with Arizona's High-A team in Visalia, Calif. This is the first time in Belfiore's four minor league seasons that he's pitching exclusively out of the bullpen.
In his career, Belfiore is 9-16 with a 4.05 ERA and 267 strikeouts in 2822/3 innings.
Around the horn
Avery, 22, has done well at Norfolk. In 33 games, he has a .273 average, .373 on-base percentage and .469 on-base percentage. Avery, a second-round pick in 2008, has five homers and 18 RBIs for the Tides. … Catcher Matt Wieters was in Saturday's lineup as the club's designated hitter. That was a possibility before Wieters was in a violent collision with the Tampa Bay Rays' Sean Rodriguez at home plate Friday. It became a certainty after the collision, Showalter said. … Lindstrom had an MRI on his right middle finger. The club was awaiting results Saturday night. … Reimold, who had an epidural in his neck Friday, said it usually takes three to five days after the procedure before he can evaluate its effect.
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