Has Tommy Hunter pitched his way out of the Orioles starting rotation?

May 29, 2012|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO — When the Orioles activate outfielder Endy Chavez off the disabled list today, they will have to make a corresponding 25-man roster move to create space for the club’s utility outfielder.

Given yesterday’s roster moves, which included activating infielder Mark Reynolds, the move would figure to include an infielder, especially because Reynolds' return creates a potential logjam at third base, making utility infielder Steve Tolleson the likely one to be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

But after Tommy Hunter’s outing in Monday’s 6-2 loss to the Jays  – the shortest outing by any Orioles starter this season and Hunter’s shortest since August 2010 – the Orioles have to be considering sending the 25-year-old right-hander down.

The club also has off days between each series on the road, which could allow the Orioles to briefly go to a four-man rotation and keep everyone on schedule.

And Hunter’s psyche is shaken right now. He's yielded 10 earned runs in his last two starts, a span of just nine innings. He’s allowed 13 homers this season, tied for second most in the majors.

Just two starts ago, Hunter had one of his best starts of the year, a strong seven-inning, two-run quality road start in Kansas City. But he's been far too inconsistent this season.  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.

Both Hunter and Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Monday that Hunter’s chief problem is his fastball location. Hunter struggled to execute any of his pitches on Monday, and his fastball was elevated in the strike zone, a feast for fastball-hitting lineups like the Blue Jays.

At the Rogers Centre, Hunter has allowed six homers in two starts this season. He is 0-3 with a 7.31 ERA in five career starts in Toronto.

“This place gets me I don’t know what it is,” Hunter said. “I’d love to throw these guys anywhere but this place. I don’t know how good I am outside this place, but this place is sickening for me. It’s something you’re going to have to overcome if you want to continue your career. Bottom line, that’s it.”

Before the game, Showalter said there were three or four scenarios for today’s roster move, and that the club would decide following the game. Asked whether Hunter was in jeopardy of being sent down – he has already been optioned one this season – Showalter hedged an answer.

“We’ll step back here,” Showalter said. “We’re going to wait and look at some things and take a lot of things into consideration and see where we are.”

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