05/23/12 2:38 PM ET
Tolleson making most of his opportunity
By Greg Luca / MLB.com
Although Tolleson's two-run home run in the second inning proved instrumental in Tuesday's 4-1 win against the Red Sox, his days with the Orioles are likely numbered. With third baseman Mark Reynolds progressing in his recovery from a strained oblique and Brian Roberts starting his rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Wednesday night, roster spots -- especially on the infield -- will soon be at a premium.
That crunch could spell the end for Tolleson, who made just his fifth start of the season Wednesday after being called up from Triple-A Norfolk on May 9.
"He's fun to have around," manager Buck Showalter said. "It's going to be tough to part with him. We like looking at him every day. He's a competitor."
Showalter pointed out how well Tolleson has capitalized on his Major League opportunity, going 5-for-11 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs and a walk against lefties.
But that performance likely won't be enough to stall the potential returns of Roberts and Reynolds, and Tolleson isn't putting any additional pressure on himself.
"That's out of my control," Tolleson said. "For me to sit here and say, 'Well, if he comes back, I'm going to get sent down,' that doesn't do the team any good and it doesn't do me any good. There's enough pressure in this game as it is, and if you're putting pressure on yourself to stay up here or to perform the way that you have to perform to stay up here, that doesn't help anyone. So I'm just going to play as hard as I can, do what I can to help this team."
Tolleson's grounded, practical approach was no surprise to Showalter. With a background as a team captain at South Carolina and a father, Wayne, who played 12 seasons in the Majors, Tolleson has the pedigree for success.
Showalter said Tolleson's maturity and competitiveness made him an obvious target in free agency, and the Orioles signed him last November.
"He's going to be in the right place at the right time," Showalter said. "You know he can sit two or three days and prepare himself to make a contribution."
Tolleson said understanding his role and approaching the game with the right mentality is critical not just for him, but for all of the reserves on the Orioles' roster.
Showalter has shown a commitment to keeping all of his players in the flow of the game with at least a few at-bats per week, which makes it easier to capitalize on each opportunity.
Tolleson proved that Tuesday night, launching the home run that prompted Adam Jones to smack the shaving-cream pie on his face.
"That's a great feeling," Tolleson said. "It's me tonight, it will be somebody else tomorrow."
Hammel still on track to start Friday vs. Royals
BALTIMORE -- Jason Hammel is expected to take the hill Friday following the Orioles' off-day despite the fact that his sore right knee has been "very, very slow" to heal.
"It's not progressing the way I want it to or the way the team wants it to," Hammel said, "but it's slowly getting better."
Hammel had the knee drained on Monday and the team is doing regular treatment to try to control the fluid buildup.
The righty was given eight days' rest to heal between his May 5 and May 14 starts, but the soreness has lingered.
Hammel said he hasn't run on ground for three weeks, instead opting for the elliptical stair stepper and pool work with a "zero-gravity outfit" that allows him to work on his range of motion while negating impact and potential swelling.
"It's kind of a touchy situation," Hammel said. "I don't know how long it's going to be around, but it's probably something we're going to deal with for a while."
The results of the injury have shown in Hammel's performance. After jumping out to a 4-1 record and 2.09 ERA, Hammel has failed to advance past the first out of the sixth inning in each of his past two starts. He's also given up a combined eight earned runs, raising his ERA from 2.09 to 3.12.
"Obviously I want to be getting deeper into ballgames, but the knee is just not cooperating right now," Hammel said.
While manager Buck Showalter wouldn't say he's confident that Hammel's knee won't be an ongoing issue, he said he felt the situation was manageable.
Very little consideration was given to pushing Hammel's start back further than Thursday, especially given the flexibility the team has with off-days coming up on May 31 and June 4.
"I really feel like just getting me out there every fifth day is going to help the team," Hammel said. "Obviously I don't want to kill the 'pen, but I think missing me for a couple of weeks right now is probably not in the best interest of myself or the team. I know I can help the team right now with this, it's something I can put up with, and I'm just going to keep grinding it out."
Bundy promoted to high Class A Frederick
BALTIMORE -- After an impressive seven weeks with Class A Delmarva, Dylan Bundy has been promoted to Class A Advanced Frederick and will start for the Keys on Saturday against Salem.
Bundy, who was the No. 4 overall pick and top high school player taken in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, mowed through the competition at Delmarva.
The right-hander did not allow an earned run in 30 innings, surrendering only five hits and two walks while striking out 40.
"What's important are the skills he develops to become a Major League pitcher," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of Bundy, who will stay in the range of 125-130 innings in his first pro season.
Bundy boasts a fastball that has been clocked as high as 99 mph, but he was struggling to work on his changeup against hitters who couldn't catch up to his heat. In five shutout innings against Hagerstown on Sunday, Bundy threw only one changeup and two curveballs in 58 pitches.
"He can get players out because he has an exceptional fastball," Duquette said. "We want him to get where he needs to be to be a Major League pitcher, and that means working on changing speeds and his breaking pitches."
Duquette also said on Tuesday that director of pitching development Rick Peterson has likened Bundy's first taste of pro ball to his "freshman year," a thinking that supports the organization's slow-moving plans for the young righty.
Pitcher Zach Britton had a successful work day on Wednesday and is still scheduled to pitch Saturday for Double-A Bowie before traveling with the Baysox to Akron on May 31, at which point he could be activated.
Reliever Matt Lindstrom still has some tenderness related to the partial ligament tear in his right middle finger, but he's been feeling better, manager Buck Showalter said. Lindstrom will head to Sarasota, Fla., to rehab once he has some success throwing the ball.
Rehab assignments have not yet been set up for Mark Reynolds and Endy Chavez, who are both at the club's Spring Training complex recovering from strained oblique muscles. Showalter said Reynolds is still a day or two ahead of Chavez in the recovery process.
Showalter expressed excitement for Thursday's off-day, calling it the first day off without a game or travel since Spring Training. Showalter held both J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters out of the lineup Wednesday so that they would be able to take two consecutive days off. Hardy has been nursing a sore shoulder, while Wieters is dealing with the regular nicks that accumulate for a Major League catcher.
Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.