Hunter back with club to bolster ’pen
Drake brought up; McFarland, Borbon designated for assignment
NEW YORK — In an effort to bolster their bullpen and stem their relief corps’ recent swoon, the Orioles signed free agent Tommy Hunter and added reliever Oliver Drake (Navy) from Triple-A Norfolk ahead of Sunday’s game.
“We need some arms,” manager Buck Showalter said before the Orioles faced the NewYork Yankees. “Weknewwe could get through one day, and we knew we were going to go to seven today. [Executive vice president] Dan [ Duquette] and I talked a lot about how we probably needed two. But Tommy was available, and we got him.”
Showalter said Hunter, who was with the Orioles from 2011 until last year’s trade deadline, brings experience. He was most recently rehabilitating with the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliate after suffering a back injury carrying his newborn son downstairs. He had a 3.74 ERA for the Indians, and also missed part of the season after having three offseason core-muscle surgeries.
“He’s done some work on his health, had some challenges that he seems to have behind him,” Showalter said. “We didn’t have to give up a player, and we like Tommy’s makeup. He’s been in this division before, and it’s a pretty seamless fit for our locker room. If you look at what’s available this time of year, Tommy, we felt fortunate to add him.”
“I’m thrilled,” said Hunter, who was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2015 for outfielder Junior Lake. “Some of my best friends are in there. So, it’s been a wild year and a half. It was pretty exciting times in our household last night.”
Hunter and Drake, who Showalter said has been “pitching good” in Norfolk, can help an Orioles bullpen that pitched102⁄ innings over the first two games of the series in New York.
To make room for them on the roster, and for Hunter on the 40-man roster, left-hander T.J. McFarland and outfielder Julio Borbon were designated for assignment. Showalter indicated that both remain in the Orioles’ plans if they pass through waivers. Pearce pulled as arm acts up: Making his first start in right field since suffering a strained flexor mass in his right elbow area three weeks ago, outfielder Steve Pearce left the game Sunday after aggravating the injury on a check swing.
Pearce already had recorded an outfield assist on a throw from right field to third base and driven in three runs with three hits, including a sixth-inning home run, when utility man Ryan Flaherty took over for him in right field to start the eighth inning.
“He had a little sting there on the one checked swing right before the home run,” Showalter said. “The throw didn’t bother him much, but I didn’t want to [risk it]… But he’s fine.”
“You know, CC [ Sabathia] had some good stuff out there today and some late break on some stuff,” Pearce said. “I just took a couple of hard checks back to back and kind of aggravated it. I told [Showalter] I was still able to go out there, but he made it very clear that we were going to try and get out in front of this thing and not let it flare up again.”
The possibility of worsening the injury wasn’t worth the risk, they decided, though his start in right field was a sign that they had a good idea of what shape his arm was in.
Pearce had spent a week resting it, with the help of a cortisone shot, after suffering the injury Aug. 7 in Chicago, and returned to the outfield as a left fielder last week. Around the horn: Showalter said right-hander Chris Tillman (shoulder bursitis) had his flat-ground session moved up from Tuesday to today because he feels so good. Showalter said he’d make public Tillman’s schedule after the session today, but he estimated that he won’t be back until Sept. 9 or10. ... Center fielder Adam Jones might have played Sunday if it had been a night game, Showalter said, but the quick turnaround with a 1 p.m. start was a big reason for in keeping him out of the lineup for the second straight day.