Buck Showalter tried to put the most positive spin on the decision to option starting pitcher Tommy Hunter and backup catcher Ronny Paulino to Triple-A Norfolk, but it was pretty obvious after Sunday's 17-inning marathon that some tough decisions were afoot.
"We sent some people out we'd rather not,'' Showalter said, "but obviously we needed some arms here. Jason [Berken] and Stu [Pomeranz] were best equipped to give us some innings."
It may seem strange that the Orioles decided to send out Paulino -- especially with him batting .300 -- but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
Paulino's offensive numbers are seriously front-loaded. He hit safely in his first five at-bats, but has just four hits in his last 25 at-bats (.160). That, combined with the fact that he isn't a top-flight catch-and-throw guy, made the decision pretty easy for Showalter, even if he gave Paulino his due during his pregame media briefing. Luis Exposito will make his first Orioles start behind the plate tonight to spell Matt Wieters.
"They both had options,'' said Showalter, "but Ronny, we want to get him catching for a period of time and get him back there every day. Keep in mind how short his spring training was and how -- I wouldn't say rushed. He's done some good things for us. We just want to let him catch every day down there and get back to a point where he's comfortable, build up some of his leg strength and get some consistent at bats.
"Luis has been doing well there and it's an opportunity to take a look at him, and obviously Matt needs a day after 17 innings yesterday.
Hunter has been banged up since spring training, so Showalter said he wants him to go down, make a couple of starts and get back into a comfortable routine. Hunter did not complain about his demotion.
"They had to make a decision and unfortunately it was me,'' he said. "I'm not mad at anybody. If I had thown better, we wouldn't have had to play 17 innings yesterday."
Here are tonight's starting lineups:
Ian Kinsler 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Josh Hamilton LF
Adrian Beltre DH
Michael Young 1B
Nelson Cruz RF
Mike Napoli C
Brandon Snyder 3B (Yes, that Brandon Snyder)
Craig Gentry CF
Matt Harrison LHP
Robert Andino 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters DH
Mark Reynolds 3B
Wilson Betemit LF
Chris Davis 1B
Luis Exposito C
Brian Matusz LHPCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times