Orioles bolster roster with four callups
O's add outfielder Fiorentino and trio of relievers
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles use the first day of September to expand their roster and flesh out some of the weaker elements of their team. Baltimore dipped down to Triple-A Norfolk to add reserve outfielder Jeff Fiorentino and relievers Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate and Alberto Castillo for the final month of the season.
All of those players have big league experience, and three of them have played for Baltimore this year. Sarfate spent four months on the disabled list due to a circulatory condition, and Albers has been shifted back and forth between the Orioles and Norfolk. Castillo, meanwhile, has spent most of the season with Norfolk.
"They give us some flexibility and add to the inventory down there," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "Castillo gives us a little more flexibility. I think you need to have two lefties in the 'pen. We haven't had that, but obviously having an extra lefty in the 'pen is beneficial. You can use one early and you might need to use one late.
Sarfate, meanwhile, was a member of the Opening Day bullpen and was expected to play a major role this season. The right-hander came down with a circulatory problem in his right middle finger in early May, though, and spent the next four months rehabilitating and then working back into game condition for the final month.
"It's just good to be back in here with the guys instead of going from team to team," he said. "Not only was I living out of a hotel, but I was living out of my baseball bag. I'd constantly have to pack up to go somewhere else. It's humbling. I've got to get back to where I was and try to re-prove myself, re-establish myself as a big league reliever."
Sarfate said he plans to pitch for Hermosillo in the Mexican Winter League for a month and a half just to up his innings total in preparation for next season. Sarfate, one of the hardest throwers on the team, said that the season has basically been lost for him and that he wants to move past it and get back to what he does best.
"You get injured and it seemed like it was one thing after another," he said. "I just wanted to help. I'd see these guys on TV all the time whenever I could watch, and it was depressing. I knew I had to work real hard to get back to where I was. I didn't expect it to take that long. Four months is a long time, pretty much the whole year. "
Albers, meanwhile, went down to Norfolk to get his game back in order. The right-hander was used as a bridge reliever for much of the first half, but ran into a rut. Albers allowed runs in six of his last seven outings with the Orioles and was sent down to Norfolk in mid-August in order to make room for fast-rising rookie Kam Mickolio.
"I just kind of got back to trying to relax, just slowing the game down," he said. "I was just trying to relax and not put too much pressure on myself. Obviously, the Triple-A setting and the atmosphere, you just don't feel that much pressure. I thought I threw the ball pretty well down there and got a few things straightened out."
Fiorentino, who hasn't played with the Orioles since 2006, was perhaps the most interesting of the four callups. The outfielder was involved in a few different waiver claims and played for four different teams last year before finding his way back to the Orioles, the team that drafted and developed him.
Baltimore has seen both Adam Jones and Felix Pie suffer minor ailments in recent days, and Fiorentino will provide depth at all three outfield positions. The 26-year-old was batting .312 with 12 home runs 67 RBIs for Norfolk, and Trembley said his addition will send a positive message to the rest of the team's farmhands.
"He came with a smile on his face today and it was great to see," Trembley said of Fiorentino. "Probably the best thing was it wasn't given to him, he earned it. He put together a solid season at Triple-A and ... it should feel really good when you can reward a guy ... and say if you do it right you'll be recognized and rewarded."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.