BALTIMORE -- The Orioles continue to be masters at roster manipulation, as they optioned starter Miguel Gonzalez on Saturday afternoon to add catcher Steve Clevenger and make good use of a needed spot with the All-Star break approaching.
Gonzalez has worked eight innings in back-to-back outings, and the O's want to keep him on a schedule so he will head home to the West Coast before starting on Thursday for Triple-A Norfolk. Gonzalez, who will now be able to attend his 1-year-old daughter's birthday party, will meet the O's out west and pitch in Baltimore's July 22 game at Anaheim.
Bud Norris, whom the O's optioned to Double-A Bowie to also stay on track, will pitch the July 21 series opener against the Angels. Neither pitcher will lose service time as a result of the assignments, and both will remain in the Minors for just the minimum 10 days, with the team off most of next week for the break.
Clevenger, who is mostly going to be used as a left-handed bat off the bench, made the Orioles' Opening Day roster as the backup to catcher Matt Wieters. Clevenger was the odd man out after the team traded for Nick Hundley and rookie Caleb Joseph was promoted, with Clevenger tasked to be more mindful of his defense.
"He's improved," manager Buck Showalter said of Clevenger, who told reporters on Saturday that he focused a lot on catching at Norfolk. "Not that he was bad. Maybe that's how a guy should hit when they are focusing completely on something other than [hitting]. He's been wearing it out down there.
"I don't think anybody doubts Steve's ability to hit. It's just a matter of applying yourself to the stuff [bench coach] John [Russell] and [catching coordinator] Donny Werner and those guys talked about. You go through that period, mentally and emotionally, where you got to make an adjustment with that. But you understand how you get back. Everybody has been very obvious to him and very frank about [what he needs to do]."
Clevenger got the news he was headed up during Norfolk's second game on Friday and said he was surprised but plans to make the best of his time with Baltimore.
"I've been swinging the bat pretty good down there," said Clevenger, who batted .328/.378/.458 in 36 games with Norfolk. "Like I said, I went down and tried to work on my catching, but I've been swinging the bat really well."
The Orioles will have to make a roster move on Monday to recall Norris for his second-half debut, and Showalter said that until then, the club will see what happens regarding its roster.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.