O's recall righty S. Johnson; Britton optioned
Baltimore also activates right-hander Hammel from disabled list
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles made a handful of changes to their pitching staff Thursday, recalling Steve Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk and optioning Zach Britton to short-season Class A Aberdeen. The club also activated Jason Hammel from the disabled list, as expected.
Britton allowed four earned runs and walked two batters in 2 1/3 innings against the Indians on Wednesday night. He was optioned to Aberdeen, the only Orioles affiliate still playing, because manager Buck Showalter wants the left-hander to get the bad taste of Wednesday's start out of his mouth.
Aberdeen will face Tri-City, an Astros affiliate, in the first round of the New York-Penn League playoffs this weekend. Britton could start as early as Sunday, according to Showalter.
"What's frustrating is Zach feels as good physically as he has in a long time," Showalter said. "He kind of got in his own way [Wednesday] night. We just want to get the ball back in his hand as soon as we can."
Johnson was recalled from Norfolk to give Showalter an additional arm in the bullpen. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 7.82 ERA in six games (one start) for the Orioles this season and has the ability to pitch multiple innings.
When asked to describe his season, Johnson called it "frustrating."
"Obviously, it's not the type of season I would have hoped for. Obviously, a lot of injuries," he said. "But I'm back now and I'm healthy and able to help."
Hammel also said that he is healthy after missing more than a month with right flexor mass tightness, an injury that has bothered him since the spring. He went 7-8 with a 5.20 ERA in 21 starts before being placed on the disabled list in late July.
Showalter said the right-hander likely would not pitch before Saturday. When he does return, Hammel could either be used as a starter or reliever.
"Obviously, he's pitched well as a starter at times, for the most part, and he pitched real well for Colorado out of the 'pen before we acquired him," Showalter said. "So it's good to have a couple ways to go with that."
Hammel said that he feels healthy enough to perform in either role. After dealing with the effects of the injury all season, he feels as healthy as he did before Spring Training.
"I was trying to get back as quick as I could. It was tough watching the guys on TV. I want to be there with them and be able to go through the ups and downs together," Hammel said. "But it is what it is right now. So, obviously, I know I can help, and I just tried to get back as quick as a I could."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.