Orioles manager Buck Showalter did not commit to having Ubaldo Jimenez make his next scheduled start Sunday – but he didn’t shoot down the idea, either.
“We’ll see what happens when we get there,” Showalter said. “That’s when he’s scheduled to start again.”
The one thing Showalter stressed Tuesday is that he would not skip that fifth spot Sunday and leave the rotation on regular rest because of Thursday’s off day. He is trying to get Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman extra rest when possible, so if Jimenez doesn’t start Sunday at the Houston Astros, the turn will be taken by someone who is not currently in the rotation.
“I’m gonna give these guys the extra day with the off day every chance we get, especially with Dylan and Gaus,” Showalter said.
Possibilities for Sunday’s outing could include lefty Jayson Aquino, who was recalled Tuesday when Stefan Crichton was sent to Triple-A Norfolk, or current Tides starters Mike Wright and recently acquired Jordan Kipper.
Perhaps the most obvious candidate would be Alec Asher, who has made two spot starts and pitched well. But Showalter said that Asher’s ability to help in the bullpen may limit him from getting a start – if one is available Sunday.
“That would obviously jump to the conclusion that we needed one for Sunday so I’m gonna be careful of that, some people might think we do,” Showalter said. “I don’t think on the surface that (Asher) is that far removed from the extended outings. In a week or two, it probably wouldn’t be normal length if you went there (with Asher), but I also think he’s shown the ability to serve a need in our bullpen, too, with Zach (Britton) being down.”
Showalter said Jimenez wouldn’t be moved to the bullpen immediately – if that’s the decision — because he won’t be ready to pitch for “two or three days at least, maybe four” after throwing 90 pitches Monday.
I’d be surprised if Jimenez – who is 1-2 with a 7.17 ERA in nine games — made Sunday’s start, but one thing to know before a move to the bullpen occurs.
In his career, Jimenez has had success against the Astros (4-1, 2.86 ERA in 12 games, 11 starts) and in Houston (2-0, 2.34 ERA in seven games). Of course, this is a different Astros team from the past – it has the best record in the AL at 30-15 – and a different Jimenez from earlier in his career.
Update on Bourn
Outfielder Michael Bourn has exercised the opt-out clause on his minor league contract, and the Orioles have roughly 24 hours to make a decision on whether they will recall him.
Showalter said Bourn is not traveling with Triple-A Norfolk while making his decision. He has been temporarily placed on the Short-A Aberdeen roster as a procedural move since its season has not started yet.
The sense is the Orioles will not activate him. Bourn, 34, has hit .220 with a .373 on-base percentage in 11 games with the Tides, and the Orioles’ outfield is crowded right now.
If the Orioles don’t activate Bourn, he would be free to sign with another organization – or he could always re-join the Tides. The Orioles presumably would like to have the speedy veteran as insurance in the minors.
Showalter turned 61 on Tuesday. He had a pretty good quip about it.
“Remember when you thought 61 was old?” Showalter said. “It is.”