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.
Ubaldo's injury another chance for Gausman
BALTIMORE -- On Saturday, a day before he'll return to the Majors to start against the Yankees in the final game before the All-Star break, Kevin Gausman planned to watch Baltimore's afternoon game from inside the home clubhouse at Camden Yards.
The taxi squad was once an unusual position for Gausman -- a player can be with the Major League team a day before officially being recalled but can't watch from the dugout -- but it has become familiar this season as he shuttles back and forth between Minor League assignments and starts with the O's.
Gausman will be recalled again on Sunday after less than a week in the Minors, as the Orioles officially place Ubaldo Jimenez on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain.
"The first time I came up and did taxi squad, I was like, 'What do you mean? I just hang out in the clubhouse? What am I supposed to do?' Gausman said. "But now I'm like, 'All right, cool. I'll hang out.'
Typically, Gausman will watch from the video room and prod staffers with questions about the opponent's lineup.
For a growing pitcher, it's a good opportunity to learn on the fly, although his days with the taxi squad may finally be nearing an end. With Jimenez sidelined, Gausman will likely remain with Baltimore coming out of the break, and perhaps depending on Jimenez's recovery time.
"Any time you're up here for an extended amount of time, it's good," Gausman said. "It's just another opportunity for me to go out there and pitch well and try to keep us rolling."
The O's haven't outlined a plan yet for Jimenez's rehab, but the right-hander said he will "probably throw a simulated game," and right now, he's just icing his ankle to combat the swelling.
Jimenez will head out to California during the All-Star break so he can be close to the team when it starts back up on the West Coast next week. When he returns, Jimenez hopes to enjoy a strong second half -- something he's made a habit of in recent years -- perhaps as early as the sixth game after the break, if he's healthy.
"I always have a good second half," Jimenez said. "This one's no different. I've been looking forward to it."
One added benefit of Gausman's yo-yo season is that the Orioles no longer need to stress about an innings count. The rookie has thrown a total of 78 2/3 innings this season, and he's on target for a slightly lofty 180. Baltimore, it seems, will let him get close to that.
"He's ready to pitch until our season ends," O's manager Buck Showalter said.
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.