BALTIMORE—In his first briefing with the media since the Orioles left spring training on March 27th, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said that he didn’t know how long infielder Ramón Urías’ would be out because of a left hamstring muscle strain. Elias also touched on a number of other topics.
The Orioles put Urías on the 10-day injured list and recalled infielder Terrin Vavra from Triple-A Norfolk. They also optioned left-hander Keegan Akin to Norfolk and designated catcher Luis Torrens for assignment. Left-hander Drew Rom and first baseman/outfielder Ryan O’Hearn were also recalled from the Tides.
“We hope that it’s not going to be an overly significant amount of time, but when you’re talking about a hamstring, it’s definitely something that we went ahead and put him on the IL,” Elias said. “We expect him to miss a good bit of time.”
Manager Brandon Hyde said that without Urías, Gunnar Henderson would get the bulk of the playing time at third base. “He’s going to see a lot of time at third base right now,” Hyde said.
Rom, who was 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA in six starts at Norfolk, provides long relief depth, even though he’s been starting.
“He’s been doing his thing at Triple-A,” Elias said. “He’s been throwing strikes, and I think he’s only had one rocky outing, and he’s been part of a very quality rotation down there. I think we’re in a spot where all of those guys can come and help us on a day-to-day basis when we need a pitcher. This was his day to pitch at Triple-A. I thought he would come up and provide us a nice length option and a left-handed option.”
Elias is pleased with the team’s depth.
“I think this is a season and a 40-man roster where every single person on that 40-man roster is going to come into play for us throughout the year, and he’s the next one to get a first shot,” Elias said. “We were looking at a short-term basis who to bring up, and we’ve got Terrin here. We’ll just see where this all goes, but we’re fortunate right now where we have a lot of guys performing very well in Triple-A, both on and off the 40-man roster, and we’re actively discussing all those guys.”
There have been a number of moves in recent weeks in which players are recalled for brief stints, and that’s something that could continue, Elias said.
“I don’t think it’s something we want to do for its own sake,” Elias said. “We’re in a nice position where we’ve got the flexibility with our roster and we have a lot of young players who are on the 40-man who are doing well in Triple-A, so when we have an injury or we have some matchups changing or when the bullpen needs a fresh arm, we tend to be able to make a move to do it. It’s a long season, and I’m sure we’ll have a lot of this for a number of reasons, but we’re going to go with this group for a while.”
The Orioles have lost three games in a row for the first time this season, but Elias is pleased with their 22-13 start.
“I think we can get better, too,” Elias said. “Our rotation seems to be stabilizing and improving. We definitely don’t have our starting hitters firing on all cylinders. We’ve got guys that haven’t got to the level that they’ve performed at in the past or last year or that we know that we’re capable of. I don’t think we’re ever going to get all nine guys hot at one time. I think there’s still time for this young team to keep getting sharper as this season goes along.
“Now, we’re moving into a challenging part of the schedule, a lot of AL East foes. It won’t get easier from that standpoint. I think the arrows are pointing up with a lot players on this team and a lot of the guys in Triple-A. We’re in the thick of the playoff race, but it’s only May. We’re going to have to keep taking every series one at a time.”
Relievers Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate, who are both on the 15-day injured list, should be back sometime this month, Elias said. Givens will pitch on Wednesday and Thursday for Double-A Bowie at Harrisburg, and Tate is with Norfolk in Jacksonville.
Once Givens completes back-to-back assignments, Elias said the Orioles could consider his activation.
“That’s usually something you want to see from a relief pitcher before they get activated,” Elias said. “I don’t have exact dates there.”
Cole Irvin, who was optioned to Norfolk on April 13th, is an option if the Orioles need another starter.
“Absolutely a consideration,” Elias said. “We have five healthy starters. We want to keep a group of guys stretched out and starting in Triple-A even if they could be bullpen pieces. It’s important for us to have starting pitching depth. While he got the unfortunate end of a pitching crunch after the first couple of starts and we needed a fresh arm after [Kyle] Bradish got hurt in Texas, and he ended up in Triple-A, we still view him as a member of this rotation and somebody who’s going to help this rotation, but right now we’ve got five guys that are healthy and going pretty well.
“I can’t stress how long a baseball season [is], and how early we are in the baseball season. I am happy that we have a very strong 40-man right now. We have a strong major league team that’s winning. We’ve got the Norfolk Tides with the best record [in Triple-A]. I just view this whole group as our team this year, and we’re going to tap into every resource that we have in the majors and minors as needed.”
DL Hall, who’s starting at Norfolk and is still seen as a long-term starter for the Orioles, could be used in the bullpen, Elias said.
“We brought Drew Rom up as a reliever. He’s not getting a start. He’s going into the bullpen. Between DL and Drew and Cole Irvin and Spenser Watkins, who’s on the IL right now, and Bruce Zimmermann, we’ve got starting pitchers on the 40-man that we trust that are in that rotation such that something weird happens, we can look at who is pitching at Norfolk the next day and we can bring them in to help.
“While we’ve got some big ambitions and big development goals for DL Hall, on a day-to-day basis, we’re looking at him in that way, too. It’s sort of something that we’re going to balance throughout the year and if a guy like Rom comes up and helps our bullpen for a while, it doesn’t mean that we’re no longer developing him as a starting pitcher, so we’ll just try to balance all that.”