Orioles @Rangers lineups & tidbits, Hunter optioned
*In a somewhat surprising move, the Orioles optioned Tommy Hunter (2-1, 5.00 ERA) prior to Monday’s game, on the heels of Sunday’s 17-inning win and a severely overtaxed bullpen. Hunter went 4 1/3 innings in Sunday’s starter, allowing five runs on eight hits and a walk with two strikeouts, surrendering a grand slam to Will Middlebrooks that proved to be his demise. The 25-year-old right-hander has been unable to keep the ball down, allowing at least one home run in his last five starts.
Hunter has given up nine homers in 36 innings and said he understood the decision.
“I just got to pitch better,” Hunter said. “They got to make room for a couple guys and I’m the one who pitched last and gave it up in the fifth. It makes sense. Heck, it’s a business. I’ve got to get better.”
Hunter, who was slowed this spring with a back and side issue, said on Monday that physically everything is fine. He had Sunday’s start pushed back, giving him two extra days rest, and reiterated that his struggles are not anything other than him failing to get the ball down.
He will take a work day at Camden Yards today and get his American League championship ring on the field pregame along with several other Orioles who were with the Rangers last season.
*Hunter’s spot will be assumed by reliever Jason Berken, who last went two innings on Saturday, a move that will help bolster the bullpen. Berken last pitched two innings on Saturday and would be an option to start if he’s not used today. Manager Buck Showalter said the Orioles will also make the proper adjustments at Triple-A in case they need a starter Friday, with Chris Tillman a strong possibility.
Hunter has to remain in the Minors for at least 10 days unless there’s an injury situation up here in which case that rule doesn’t apply.
*The O’s also optioned catcher Ronny Paulino and selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Stu Pomeranz. Tsuyoshi Wada –who will get left elbow surgery later this week — was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Pomeranz on the 40-man roster. While Paulino played pretty well, the Orioles feel Luis Exposito –who got Monday’s start — is a better defensive catcher and they want to see what he can do at the Major League level. Paulino and Exposito both had options, with Paulino adding one in his contract when he signed as a non-roster invitee this winter.
*The O’s Player Development department has named the organization’s Pitcher & Player of the Month for April with right-hander Dylan Bundy (Delmarva) & Ronnie Welty (Frederick) taking the honors.
Robert Andino 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters DH
Mark Reynolds 3B
Wilson Betemit LF
Chris Davis 1B
Luis Exposito C
Brian Matusz LHP
Ian Kinsler 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Josh Hamilton LF
Adrian Beltre DH
Michael Young 1B
Nelson Cruz RF
Mike Napoli C
Brandon Snyder 3B
Craig Gentry CF
RHP Matt Harrison