Hunter's Struggles Could Give Way To Britton

Hunter's Struggles Could Give Way To Britton

Hunter's struggles as of late, could free up a spot in the rotation for Zach Britton.

INSIDE PITCH

A spot could soon be open for Zach Britton.

If the Orioles are ready for the lefty to rejoin the rotation after recovering from his spring shoulder issues, Tommy Hunter opened a door for the front office.

The veteran right-hander, who needed a solid start Monday to solidify his standing in the rotation, pitched poorly. He failed to record an out in the fourth inning in Baltimore's 6-2 loss to Toronto.

Hunter (2-3) allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits, including two homers. He didn't walk a batter, but he also didn't record a strikeout. His ERA rose to 5.59.

The Orioles held Jose Bautista to 0-for-4, but every other Blue Jays starter had a hit.

The short start was out of the norm for Hunter, who had gone at least six innings in each of his last three outings.

Britton pitched five innings for Class AA Bowie on Sunday, throwing 88 pitches and allowing just two unearned runs. The club could allow him to make another rehab start before bringing him back to Baltimore. The Orioles have two off days in the next week, which may enable manager Buck Showalter to go with four starters for a turn through the rotation.

If nothing else, Monday's start illustrates the front office's concern about rotation depth isn't unfounded. The Orioles will need to bolster the rotation if they are indeed serious about competing in 2012.

Hunter happens to be among the low-hanging fruit on a club that has lost three straight for just the second time all year.

NOTES, QUOTES

Jones' hitting streak reaches 19 games

--CF Adam Jones extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a ninth-inning single Monday. Jones went 1-for-4, and his average is .307 following the loss to the Blue Jays. He's batting .333 (26-for-78) during the streak, which is the longest in the majors this season.

--OF Endy Chavez is expected to be activated before Tuesday's game. Manager Buck Showalter confirmed after Monday's game that Chavez would rejoin the team, but no corresponding move was announced. INF Steve Tolleson and OF Xavier Avery could be optioned to Class AAA Norfolk, or the club could option RHP Tommy Hunter following a poor outing Monday. Chavez has been out since May 9 due to a strained left intercostal muscle.

--LHP Dana Eveland salvaged the bullpen with four scoreless innings Monday. Eveland followed RHP Tommy Hunter's three-plus-inning start with his strong outing. On 50 pitches, he allowed just three hits while striking out two.

--2B Brian Roberts will wrap up his 20-day rehab assignment on the road with Class AAA Norfolk. Roberts spent time with Class AA Bowie and Class A Frederick last week, but with all of the local affiliates on the road, Roberts opted to join the highest level of the club's farm system. He has until June 11 to complete the assignment, when the club would have to activate him or appeal to the commissioner's office for a longer stretch. Roberts hasn't played in the majors since last May due to complications from a concussion.

--3B Mark Reynolds was back in the lineup Monday after being activated from the 15-day disabled list. Reynolds went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI in his first action since May 11, when he sustained a strained left oblique. He served as the designated hitter Monday.

--RHP Stu Pomeranz was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday, as expected. Pomeranz, who was just promoted Friday, injured his left oblique while warming up in the bullpen Sunday. The DL move was made retroactive to Saturday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- Consecutive losses for the Orioles. The only other three-loss stretch this year was a sweep by the Yankees in the second series of the year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's what happens when the ball is up. If you get the ball down, you get ground balls." -- RHP Tommy Hunter, following Monday's poor start in Toronto.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

--RHP Stu Pomeranz (pulled left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 26.

--3B Mark Reynolds (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 11. He began a rehab assignment on May 26 at Class AA Bowie, and he was activated May 28.

--OF Endy Chavez (strained left intercostal muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 9. He started a rehab assignment with Class AA Bowie on May 26, and he is expected to be activated May 29.

--2B Brian Roberts (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list March 26. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Bowie on May 23, and he is expected to spend the maximum 20 days in the minors.

--LHP Zach Britton (left shoulder impingement) went on the 15-day disabled list March 26. He threw off a mound for the first time April 23. He threw a bullpen session April 30. He made his third extended spring training start May 21. He started for Class AA Bowie on May 27 and was expected to make one more start there before the club determines whether he'll join the Orioles or Class AAA Norfolk.

--LF Nolan Reimold (bulging disk in back) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 1. He had an epidural injection May 11. He's been dealing with persistent back and neck issues. He said May 15 he was likely headed toward a second epidural injection.

--RHP Matt Lindstrom (torn ligament in right middle finger) went on the 15-day disabled list May 11. He was scheduled to start a rehab assignment in Sarasota, Fla., the week of May 28-June 3.

--LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (torn left elbow ligament) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 7. He had season-ending Tommy John surgery May 11.

--C Taylor Teagarden (back strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 9. There is no timetable for his return.

ROTATION:

RHP Jake Arrieta

LHP Wei-Yin Chen

RHP Jason Hammel

LHP Brian Matusz

RHP Tommy Hunter

BULLPEN:

RHP Jim Johnson (closer)

RHP Kevin Gregg

RHP Luis Ayala

RHP Pedro Strop

LHP Troy Patton

RHP Darren O'Day

LHP Dana Eveland

CATCHERS:

Matt Wieters

Ronny Paulino

INFIELDERS:

1B Chris Davis

2B Robert Andino

SS J.J. Hardy

3B Mark Reynolds

DH Nick Johnson

INF Steve Tolleson

INF Ryan Flaherty

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Xavier Avery

CF Adam Jones

RF Nick Markakis

OF/INF Wilson Betemit

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