A thin bench meant the Orioles couldn’t wait any longer for Hyun Soo Kim’s right hamstring to heal. So on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, the Orioles officially placed Kim on the 15-day disabled list and purchased the contract of 30-year-old outfielder Julio Borbon from Double-A Bowie.
The club has designated outfielder Henry Urrutia for assignment to make room for Borbon on the 40-man roster.
The move for Borbon, who has 20 steals this season and was hitting .433 in July for Bowie, was made partially because the Orioles are dealing with a short bench – or a beat-up one anyway.
First baseman Chris Davis missed Monday and wasn’t in the starting lineup Tuesday due to a nasty stomach virus that required a hospital visit. Catcher Matt Wieters was day-to-day with a sore foot after being hit with a pitch in Monday’s first inning.
So the bench options for Orioles manager Buck Showalter likely were limited, especially if Kim still wasn’t able to play with the hamstring strain that occurred July 10. A DL move can’t be backdated beyond 10 days, so the Orioles needed to make a call on Kim soon. And the lack of bench options probably forced the hand.
There may have been other alternatives to replace Kim on the roster, but Borbon makes some sense.
For one, Showalter has always been impressed by the speed and excellent defense offered by Borbon, a veteran of parts of four major league seasons who last played in the big leagues in 2013 with the Chicago Cubs.
Secondly, he is left-handed, so he officially can fit into the role Kim had, especially if the Orioles don’t want Joey Rickard or Nolan Reimold to get all the starts versus right-handers.
Plus, Borbon, given his age, likely will pass through waivers and return to the minors if his stay with the Orioles is a short one – which it could be with Kim eligible to return as early as next Tuesday. So Borbon is both a helpful, short-term addition, and potentially expendable – with the club’s stamp of approval – if another team claims him.
The pending loss of Urrutia is a tough one. Not so much from a playing standpoint; he hit for average while with the Orioles in 2013 and 2015, but never exhibited much power.
But Urrutia, a Cuban defector whom the Orioles gave nearly $800,000 in a signing bonus in 2012, is one of the most genuine guys I ever covered – and he has one of the most intriguing stories you’ll ever hear (more on that later).
It’s a shame he had to be a roster casualty, but he had dropped in the organizational depth chart in the last year or so.
The Orioles have 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on Urrutia. If he is not claimed, he can be outrighted by the Orioles to the minors without his consent.