Orioles place Coulombe on bereavement list, add Lester; Tate transferred to 60-day injured list; Zimmermann waits for chance - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Orioles place Coulombe on bereavement list, add Lester; Tate transferred to 60-day injured list; Zimmermann waits for chance

Photo Credit: Kim Klement USA TODAY Sports

SAN FRANCISCO–The Orioles placed left-handed pitcher Danny Coulombe on the bereavement list Saturday and selected the contract of utilityman Josh Lester from Triple-A Norfolk.

Lester was hitting .282 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs in 52 games for Norfolk. He had a strong spring training for the Orioles after signing a minor league contract with them in December. Lester was hitless in five at-bats for Detroit in 2022, his only major league experience.

During spring training, Lester and Ryan O’Hearn were among those competing for a major league spot. Neither made it at the end of spring training, but now both are here and Lewin Díaz, who’s still at Norfolk, is doing well, too.

“The way [O’Hearn] was hitting at Norfolk, and we were all swinging the bat, I feel like it played itself out,” Lester said. “He got a much deserved promotion, and now I’m here, and maybe they can mix three of us in.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said he was glad to add Lester and have a five-man bench for now.

“I’m excited for Josh,” Hyde said. “He swung the ball so well in spring training for us, off to a good start in Triple-A. We’re running into a string of right-handed starters these next handful of games. With the off day here in a couple of days, we feel like we’re in good shape bullpen-wise to be able to add another left-handed bat, and the guy is really swinging the ball well in Triple-A, and we’re excited to have him.”

Hyde said he feels comfortable playing Lester at first, third, left and right field. Lester was held out of Friday night’s Norfolk game in case the Orioles were going to summon him.

“I didn’t know until 10 minutes before the game that I had a chance to come up,” Lester said. “You never know when that call is going to come. It’s just about staying ready and putting together another good season.”

When asked who’s been impressive with the Tides, who are 38-17, Lester retorted: “Who’s not? I feel like we’ve been down six, seven runs before and a couple of innings later, it seems like we’re winning … Up and down the lineup, it was hard to pitch to.

“I think at the beginning we had Lewin hit in the eight hole. He’s got two years of big league time, and I’m like, ‘This guy’s hitting in our eight-hole. We’re going to be pretty good.'”

Coulombe, who struck out all three batters he faced on Friday night, is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 26 games.

Hyde said that he expects Coulombe to return for the series in Milwaukee, which begins on Tuesday.

The move leaves the Orioles with 12 pitchers.

To make room for Lester on the 40-man roster, right-hander Dillon Tate, who has yet to pitch this season, was transferred to the 60-day injured list because of a right elbow flexor strain.

Zimmermann waits: Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann wasn’t used in Friday night’s game, and he’s eager to pitch after his recall from Triple-A Norfolk.

He was 2-3 with a 4.05 ERA in nine games for the Tides.

“It had been going really well,” Zimmermann said. “Making a lot of strides in the past couple of outings, especially, being able to go deep into the games, a few quality starts, but mainly it was some of the things we’ve been working [on], me and [pitching coach Justin] Ramsey. We saw a lot of progress.”

Zimmermann has made four relief appearances in 31 major league games and has been a starter at Norfolk. For now, he’s in the bullpen.

“I think it’s just a slight mentality shift,” he said. “This isn’t my first time doing that anymore. Every time you do it, it gets a little bit easier. You find different things that lock you when you need to be locked in as opposed to a start when you have the whole day to figure out your schedule.”

Zimmermann thinks he’s a different pitcher.

“With the addition of a couple of different pitches, the two-seam, in particular has changed how I attack certain hitters,” Zimmermann said. “I don’t think too much has changed in the overall mentality of it, just a more heightened focus on execution when you come up here. Pitching down here. Coming up here, the margin of error obviously is so much smaller.”

Zimmermann first pitched for the Orioles on September 17th, 2020, and the team has changed radically since then.

“It’s a big change. I wouldn’t say it’s a 180, but it’s pretty close to it,” Zimmermann said. “I think in the mentality of the actual team, the front office, the players that are coming up.

“It’s been a lot of fun. A lot of these guys I got to play with especially so that adds a whole element to coming back up here and wanting to contribute. I think it’s a really great culture that’s slowly been growing here over the last two years, and especially this year.”

Zimmermann played against San Francisco’s LaMonte Wade Jr. in high school when he pitched for Loyola Blakefield and Wade played for St. Paul’s.

“I think we actually knocked him out of the playoffs my junior year,” Zimmermann said. “Got to face him a few times there and definitely hoping to get another crack at it … hopefully this weekend.”

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