Notes: Hernandez goes on 15-day DL
Catcher still dealing with strained left oblique
NEW YORK -- With Ramon Hernandez still unable to swing a bat because of a strained left oblique, the Orioles put him on the 15-day disabled list before Sunday's game against the Yankees.
The catcher hasn't played this season, and the move was made retroactive to March 31. He's eligible to return on April 15 and will work out at the team's Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla., where he'll get some at-bats in extended Spring Training games.
"We were hoping that we could get that soreness to where he wasn't feeling it at all. He still has a little spot there," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "There's just no reason to take any chances. We'll get him down to some warm weather. He can go down and get some at-bats, and once he's ready, he can jump right in there."
In Hernandez's absence, Paul Bako and Alberto Castillo have been splitting time behind the plate, combining to hit just .143 (2-for-14) -- although Bako belted a three-run home run in the fourth inning on Sunday, his first dinger since Aug. 21, 2004. The Orioles have also been playing short one position player by carrying three catchers for the first week, which is why they couldn't wait any longer with Hernandez, who hit .275 with 23 home runs and 91 RBIs last season, his first with Baltimore.
"We want him back healthy, and we don't want to lose him for two months. Two weeks is tough enough, but two months is worse," Perlozzo said. "We feel like if we get him down in some warmer weather and keep getting treatment and get his at-bats there, then we'll be better in the long run."
Hernandez left for Sarasota along with outfielder Jay Payton, who is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring and is not eligible to return until Wednesday at the earliest.
The Orioles filled out their roster by calling up left-hander Kurt Birkins from Triple-A Norfolk.
Just happy to be here: Birkins got a "good news, bad news" call from the Orioles on Saturday. The bad news was that he wouldn't be making his scheduled start for Norfolk this weekend.
The good news? He was being called up to the Major League club, meeting the Orioles in New York on Sunday.
"I was a little surprised. I figured there were a couple of guys ahead of me," said Birkins, who was 5-2 with a 4.94 ERA in 35 games with the Orioles last year. "[Left-hander Brian] Burres was up earlier, I thought they'd call him up. I'm not going to question it, I'm just going to come up here and help the team win."
Birkins hasn't pitched in over a week, not since Minor League Spring Training camp broke at the end of March. He has been staying loose by throwing a few bullpen sessions the past few days in Norfolk, so he doesn't think the layoff will pose a problem when the Orioles get around to using him.
"It's pretty much the same thing, staying fresh for the bullpen," he said. "The last two bullpens felt really good, so I'm ready."
Birkins will pitch out of the bullpen in long relief, which gives the Orioles the option of using right-hander Jeremy Guthrie late in the game if needed.
Heavy workload: John Parrish's appearances in four of the first five games may seem like a lot of work for a guy who hadn't pitched since July 2005 because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Yet Perlozzo remains confident that he doesn't have to treat the left-hander with kid gloves.
"I think those things even out," Perlozzo said. "[The Yankees have] a lot of left-handers, and when we get to Detroit, there's more right-handers, so maybe he'll only have to face a hitter here and there. I've not been told that there's any limitations on Johnny, if he says he's OK. We'll try not to abuse anybody."
Parrish hasn't allowed a run in four innings of work, striking out five.
Trebelhorn still away: Bench coach Tom Trebelhorn remains away from the team while attending to his wife, who suffered a stroke in February. Perlozzo said that he spoke with Trebelhorn earlier and reports that the coach might return around the middle of the week.
Up next: The Orioles open their home season at Camden Yards with a three-game set against the Tigers on Monday at 3:05 p.m. ET. Righty Daniel Cabrera (0-1, 3.86 ERA) will take the mound against Detroit's Chad Durbin, who will be making his first start of the season.
Peter Zellen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.