There have been people who’ve been waiting for a lot of the season for a power-hitting Norfolk infielder to be called up to the Orioles. Today, they did it! The problem is that people were specifically hoping for prospect Jordan Westburg, and the player that the Orioles have called up is 28-year-old infielder Josh Lester.
A pair of moves were require to make room on both the 26- and 40-man rosters for the Orioles to select Lester’s contract from Norfolk. Reliever Dillon Tate has been transferred to the 60-day injured list now that it’s clear his elbow injury will not be resolved in the short term. Additionally, reliever Danny Coulombe has been placed on the bereavement list.
The lefty-batting Lester was originally a 13th round pick by the Tigers in 2015 from the University of Missouri. He appeared in two games for Detroit last year, going hitless in five at-bats.
For Triple-A Norfolk so far this season, Lester has batted .282/.339/.549 in 52 games, with 14 home runs. Westburg leads Lester in every one of the batting categories I just mentioned, as he’s hitting .309/.380/.607.
It seems that the Orioles would rather have another lefty batter in the mix for now. Westburg is right-handed. I don’t get it, but things have worked out so far this year with me often not getting it. Ryan O’Hearn is already around as a lefty to play first base sometimes. Lester has split about evenly between first and third base in his minor league career. Is he good at either? I guess we’ll find out.
The answer to why not Westburg is probably that this addition of Lester is not intended as a long-term solution. Better to call up a player you don’t have much investment in for some kind of short-term situation. Plus, if Lester’s going to mostly sit on the bench, the team probably doesn’t care about that either. Westburg, on the other hand, should get at-bats every day.
Tate’s injury is the same right elbow flexor strain that’s been known to the team since November and known to fans since players reported to spring training in February. He recently went through a full 30-day rehab assignment, during all of which it was clear that he wasn’t actually at full strength. So back to the injured list for Tate - now on the 60-day list, removing him from the 40-man roster.
The bereavement list is available to players who have either a serious illness or death in their immediate family or their spouse’s immediate family. Coulombe will be on the bereavement list for a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days. This could lead to more roster shuffling while the team is in Milwaukee starting on Tuesday.