Tommy Hunter showed his true quality, and now he's on the way back to Norfolk as the Orioles May roster carousel continues to spin around. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
The Orioles' May roster carousel continues to spin as the month reaches its conclusion. Today brought another pair of corresponding roster moves. Endy Chavez has completed his rehab assignment and is rejoining the big club. Since Endy is primarily playing left field and so is Xavier Avery, it's Avery who gets optioned to Norfolk. The other move is a bit more surprising, with the heretofore unknown Miguel Gonzalez - whom I am reasonably certain is not Michael Gonzalez with a mustache - having his contract purchased from Norfolk. Tommy Hunter, who has had his Tommy Hunter-ness on display all season, has also been optioned to Norfolk. This time maybe he will be there for more than two days.
The Chavez activation was not unexpected, having been telegraphed by the beat writers for a few days. After Avery showed up and had a few nice games, no doubt some people hoped to see that Chavez would simply be cut loose when his injury time concluded. This was probably just wishful thinking, because DFAing a guy coming off the DL is one of those things it seems like baseball teams just don't do. Chavez, with his .133/.175/.167 line at the plate, may not even represent an upgrade over Avery. Still, this move can be a positive in the long run if Avery goes back to AAA with this taste of the show out of the way, now knowing what he needs to work on to be a major leaguer for more than a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we must gird ourselves for the reality of 3-4 Endy Chavez plate appearances a game.
Gonzalez swapping places for Hunter appears to be a move to bolster the bullpen, though Gonzalez did make three starts out of the 11 games he pitched for Norfolk this season. He's struck out 36 men in 30 innings in AAA this season, with only 5 walks. That could play in the big leagues. Gonzalez is from Mexico and was originally signed by the Angels in October 2003. He spent a couple of seasons in the Boston organization after being a Rule 5 draft choice, and signed with the O's as a minor league free agent on February 28. This will be his first stint in the big leagues in his career. He just turned 28 two days ago, so that's not a bad belated birthday present.
There was a free 40-man roster spot already for Gonzalez due to Bill Hall being designated for assignment on May 25.
This is the second time this season that Hunter's been optioned to Norfolk, and he's earned them both. The last time he was re-summoned after only two days because Jason Hammel had to be skipped in the rotation. Stay healthy, rotation, so Hunter and his 5.59 ERA in 58 IP can stew in Virginia for a little while longer this time. There is nothing unlucky about lifeless fastballs that sit right out in the middle of the plate. That's just a pitcher who doesn't belong in the big leagues getting lit up.
With upcoming off days on Thursday and on Monday, the O's can probably get by with four starters for the next little while, with Zach Britton taking Hunter's place in the rotation whenever he is finished with his injury recovery.