TORONTO — Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter wasn’t surprised by Tuesday’s news that he had been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Hunter, who this spring was competing for the Opening Day starter spo, was sent to Norfolk for the second time this month. He was optioned on May 7 after allowing five runs in 4 1/3 innings at Boston, but returned three days later to fill a vacant rotation spot.
Since his return, Hunter went winless in four starts, pitching to a 6.55 ERA, including the shortest outing by an Orioles start this season Monday against Toronto – a three-inning, eight-hit, six-run (five earned) outing against the Blue Jays.
“It’s just something you’ve got to get right and you go from there,” Hunter said. “It’s pretty obvious that a decision had to be made and you know, it was definitely something you could see coming.”
The Orioles also optioned outfielder Xavier Avery, who sparked the lineup from the leadoff spot but was mired in a 3-for-30 slump. The club activated outfielder Endy Chavez off the disabled list and purchased the contract right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who went 2-1 with a save and 1.50 ERA in 11 games at Triple-A Norfolk.
Hunter, who is 2-3 with a 5.59 ERA in ten starts this season, has fought to find his fastball command throughout the season, leaving too many balls up in the zone. He’s allowed 13 homers this season, tied for second most in the majors. His three-inning, six-run outing on Monday marked his fifth start in 10 this season in which he’s allowed five or more runs.
“ I’ve been throwing like (garbage),” Hunter said. “I’ve been throwing pretty bad. I haven’t been throwing well. I need to go down and clean it up so I can come back and throw the way I should be, the way I know how to throw.”
“It’s all about the fastball down and away,” Hunter said. “It’s about throwing the fastball where you want it to go and once you do that you’re going to start winning ballgames and giving your team a chance to win. Hopefully I’ll figure it out quick.”