Overworked bullpen may need extra arm

Overworked bullpen may need extra arm

TORONTO -- The Orioles' bullpen enters Friday's contest against the Blue Jays a little overworked, having thrown the fourth-most innings in the American League, which is one reason the club may be forced to make a move following the game depending on how much work the group logs.

Manager Buck Showalter said the club would "probably" make a move if he had to lean on his relievers Friday, and the club scratched right-hander Steve Johnson from his start at Triple-A Norfolk on Friday in the event it needed an extra arm for the weekend. Johnson has made one start in the Majors this season and four with the Tides, but he would be used as a reliever if he were summoned to the Orioles.

Who Baltimore would send down remains unclear, but the skipper said he's prepared to work with a shortened bench if it elected to option a position player to the Minor Leagues.

Baltimore's bullpen has scuffled recently, with closer Jim Johnson blowing three consecutive save opportunities from May 14-20, while three O's relievers surrendered eight runs in a 12-6 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday.

But while the crop of bullpen arms is struggling, especially compared to the phenomenal job it did last season, Showalter defended his group.

"It's very, very hard to do what these guys do," Showalter said. "You are just supposed to walk in and pitch good."

Showalter dismissed the notion that there is anything physically or mechanically wrong with a group that posted the second-best ERA in the AL last season at 2.94.

"Sometimes, it's as much mental as anything else," Showalter said.

Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.