For their opening game in Toronto on Monday night, the Orioles have added outfielder Ryan McKenna and right-handed pitcher Zack Burdi, who were recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.
McKenna, who has had multiple stints with the Orioles this season, is hitting .208 with a home run and six RBIs in 63 games. His addition gives the Orioles an exceptional defensive outfielder and pinch-runner. At Norfolk, McKenna was hitting .307 with 11 homers and 23 RBIs in 27 games with a 1.106 OPS.
McKenna is starting in center field against the Blue Jays, with manager Brandon Hyde giving Cedric Mullins a day off.
“An extra bench player is important right now,” Hyde said. “We’ve got three left-handed starters this series, probably two in New York.”
Hyde mentioned that Mullins and Anthony Santander, whose left ankle is still sore, could use a break. Mullins has missed only three games.
Burdi, a former first-round draft choice of the Chicago White Sox in 2016, was claimed on waivers from Chicago on August 18th. In 14 games with the White Sox in the last two seasons, the 26-year-old right-hander was 0-1 with an 8.27 ERA. Burdi had a 3.00 ERA in three games at Norfolk.
“As a teammate, I think it’s very valuable to have guys around the clubhouse who are talkative and like to express their emotions throughout the day,” Burdi said. “I’m pretty open and willing to meet new people and express myself around the clubhouse.”
Burdi was a teammate of Josh Rogers, who pitched with the Orioles in 2018 and 2019, at the University of Louisville. Rogers was released by the Orioles on June 1st and is with the Washington Nationals organization.
“Josh is a really close friend of my family,” Burdi said. “He was great from a transition, helped me with just getting to know faces.”
Burdi’s brother, Nick, pitched part of three seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2018-2020 and is on the 60-day injured list with the San Diego Padres.
McKenna and Burdi replace Paul Fry and Spenser Watkins, both of whom were sent to Norfolk after Sunday’s 12-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles’ third straight and 18th in 19 games against Tampa Bay.
Fry allowed a grand slam. In 52 games, Fry is 4-5 with a 6.08 ERA. He had a 34.71 ERA in nine games against the Rays this season. In August, his ERA is 21.86 ERA in 11 games.
“I hope to have Paul back,” Hyde said. “Some appearances in Triple-A, a little bit more low-pressure environment is going to do him some good right now. He’s lost a little bit of confidence. You see that in his misses, the walks, a lot of arm-side misses with his slider. I’d like to get his confidence back with his fastball over the plate.
“We felt like the right thing for Paul, [who] we believe in very much, is to have him go down there … and hopefully come back here with the confidence he had in the first half.”
Watkins won two of his first three starts and had a 1.65 ERA. He has lost his next seven and has a 7.47 ERA.
On Wednesday, September 1st, the Orioles will add two players when the roster expands from 26 to 28.
Left-handed pitcher Alexander Wells, who could replace Watkins in the starting rotation, is on the taxi squad with catcher Nick Ciuffo and right-handed reliever Dusten Knight.
When Burdi pitches, he’ll be the 56th player used by the team, two short of the record-setting 58 in 2019.
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