It wasn't long ago that manager Buck Showalter talked about the welcomed challenge of making room for players who were rehabbing at extended spring training in Sarasota and readying for minor league assignments.
Reliever Stu Pomeranz already was a strong candidate to come off the 25-man roster, since the Orioles were carrying an extra reliever, and the decision became a slam-dunk yesterday after he suffered an oblique injury. A spot opened for infielder Mark Reynolds, who was activated from the disabled list today after playing in two games at Double-A Bowie.
The next man up is outfielder Endy Chavez, who remained at Bowie today and started in left field. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Toronto this afternoon that Chavez will be activated in time for tomorrow night's game. You can hear more on "O's Xtra" that airs on MASN at 6:30 p.m.
So how will the Orioles create room for Chavez, who's batting .133/.175/.167 with one RBI in 20 games?
The two likeliest moves would involve Steve Tolleson and rookie Xavier Avery. Showalter has enough versatile players on his roster that he can make up for the loss of an infielder or outfielder.
I'd expect Tolleson to be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, though he's performed well in limited duty. He's batting .286/.318/.524 with a home run and three RBIs in seven games and has been pretty reliable at third base. He's also one of Showalter's favorites.
However, Showalter may prefer to keep the extra outfielder now that Reynolds is back and can play the corner infield positions, as well as serve as the designated hitter, which he's doing tonight. And Avery has given the team a jolt of speed and energy.
He might want to start hitting again. He's in a 3-for-27 slump that's not exactly tightening his grip on a roster spot.
Anyway, it would be a shame for Tolleson to lose his spot, but he gave the Orioles an option at Triple-A that didn't exist last season. That's why they signed him over the winter.
Game update: Tommy Hunter had a horrible outing tonight, allowing six runs (five earned) and nine hits - including two homers - in three-plus innings. He threw 26 pitches in the first inning, and it didn't get any easier. He was replaced by Dana Eveland without recording an out in the fourth.
This is Hunter's shortest outing of the season.
Hunter surrendered five runs and nine hits over six innings in his last start. He could be pitching his way out of the rotation again with Zach Britton nearing a return.
It's possible that he could be optioned to make room for Chavez if the Orioles choose to go with an extra position player. They could wait to add another starter, since they have off days on Thursday and next Monday.
Update II: The Orioles avoided the shutout in the ninth inning when Adam Jones extended his hitting streak to 19 games and later scored on Wilson Betemit's single. Matt Wieters, who singled, scored on Reynolds' double off the center field fence.
Reynolds went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk in his return to the lineup.
Eveland allowed three hits and didn't walk a batter in four scoreless innings of relief. He was clutch.