Sporting the worst record in baseball and desperately needing to get younger for the future, the Orioles have gone in the opposite direction by activating veteran outfielder Colby Rasmus from the disabled list and optioning outfielder Joey Rickard to Triple-A Norfolk.
The move came before the finale of a three-game set in Washington, meaning Rasmus would be seeing his first major league action since early April against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. The 31-year-old just completed a lengthy minor-league rehab assignment split between Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie in which he batted a combined .275 with two home runs, three doubles, 10 runs batted in, and an .824 on-base plus slugging percentage in 57 plate appearances.
Rasmus was placed on the DL with a left hip flexor strain on April 7 after getting off to a 2-for-21 start to the season that included an alarming 13 strikeouts in 23 plate appearances. He has a history of hip issues and even had surgery in 2016, but the Orioles signing him to a one-year, $3 million deal to be their primary right fielder in February always made it likely they’d give him another look to see if his health was the primary reason for those April struggles.
The left-handed hitter batted .281 with nine homers, 23 RBIs, and an .896 OPS in 129 plate appearances for Tampa Bay last season before abruptly walking away from the game for personal reasons. It remains to be seen how much patience the organization will have should Rasmus look similar to the hitter he was in April, especially with a frustrated fan base clamoring for Triple-A prospects such as DJ Stewart and Cedric Mullins to get an opportunity in the big leagues for a last-place team going nowhere.
Rickard, 27, is batting .203 with five homers, eight RBIs, and a .673 OPS in 86 plate appearances for Baltimore this season.
To make room for Rasmus on the 40-man roster, the Orioles transferred left-handed relief pitcher Richard Bleier to the 60-day disabled list. Bleier underwent season-ending surgery to repair a Grade 3 latissimus tear in his left shoulder earlier this week.
Infielder Pedro Alvarez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Norfolk on Thursday.