The Orioles’ bullpen took a hit Friday afternoon when it was announced that All Star set-up man Darren O’Day has been placed on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain.
To take his place on the roster, the Orioles recalled right-hander Mike Wright, who had been sent down to Triple-A Norfolk Thursday after yielding four homers on Wednesday to the Boston Red Sox. Because he is replacing an injured player, Wright could be recalled without staying the normally required 10 days in the minors after a demotion.
O’Day, 33, was 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings this season. He has two saves and 25 strikeouts in 22 innings this year. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he is optimistic O’Day can return once eligible.
“I hope so. I hope so. Because it’s Mike Wright and not somebody else, you can’t backdate the DL, and so we’ll lose one day there,” Showalter said. “We hope to get (O’Day) back in 15 days. We’ll see. I’m cautiously optimistic on that. Arm feels great.”
O’Day has been a huge part of the club’s bullpen since he joined the Orioles before the 2012 season, making 68 or more appearances in each of his four full years in Baltimore. This offseason he signed a four-year, $31 million deal that theoretically will keep him with the Orioles through 2019. Part of the reason the Orioles agreed to a long-term deal is the sidearmer’s tremendous track record of durability, particularly involving his resilient right arm.
Showalter said O’Day may have tweaked the hamstring while covering first base in the eighth inning Wednesday. He didn’t look particularly comfortable on the mound that inning. Showalter said O’Day is expected to receive a platelet-rich-plasma injection in the affected area to accelerate the healing.
While O’Day is sidelined, the Orioles have several candidates to replace him in the eighth inning, most notably Brad Brach, who has arguably been the club’s best reliever this year.
In 24 games this year, Brach has allowed just three runs (0.91 ERA) while striking out 31 batters and walking just eight in 29 2/3 innings. Mychal Givens also likely will be placed in more high leverage situations with O’Day out.
As for Wright, Showalter was non-committal as to what the 26-year-old’s role would be and whether he would start Monday against the Kansas City Royals as he was originally scheduled before his demotion. At this point, Monday’s starter is TBA.
“Hasn’t been decided yet. We’ll see. Obviously (Wright) can’t pitch out of the bullpen (Friday) because of the number of pitches (he threw Wednesday),” Showalter said. “We’ll see what Monday brings. Trying to get through Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”