Orioles acquire Norris from Astros

Bud Norris walked down the hall to his new team, the Baltimore
Orioles, and stepped right into the middle of a pennant race.

Norris was dealt from the Houston Astros to the Orioles on
Wednesday, a move that enables Baltimore to fortify a rotation that
will be without injured Jason Hammel for at least the next two
weeks.

Baltimore sent outfielder L.J. Hoes and left-handed prospect
Josh Hader to the Astros for Norris, a 28-year-old right-hander
whose $3 million salary was the highest on a roster filled with
young players.

”We’ve been trying to bolster our pitching staff, and in Bud
Norris we have a pitcher that can give us some quality innings,”
said Dan Duquette, Orioles executive vice president of baseball
operations. ”He’s been a very dependable pitcher for Houston over
the course of his career.”

The Astros and Orioles were in the middle of a three-game series
as the non-waiver trade deadline expired. So Norris packed up his
gear and made his way a few hundred yards through the bowels of
Camden Yards to the home clubhouse to begin the next chapter of his
big league career.

In the process, he left the team with the worst record in the
majors to a club seeking a second straight trip to the
playoffs.

”I’m excited for the future,” Norris said. ”I pitched my way
into this situation to be traded and help out a team. This
(Baltimore) team is a young club, they know how to contend. They
had an amazing year last year. I just want to be any piece of the
puzzle I can to help this team keep pushing to the World
Series.”

In his fifth big league season, Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA in
21 starts this year. He has a lifetime record of 34-46 and is under
team control through 2015.

”He’s competitive, a strike-thrower. He has a nice approach,”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”He’s been healthy, and he
competes. I like that fact that he gets after it. He’ll have some
challenges ahead of him, but he’s not the only guy that’s got to do
well for us to be more competitive.”

Baltimore began the day five games out of first place in the AL
East and in the thick of the wild-card chase. Norris was the third
pitching addition the Orioles have made via trade in July;
previously they obtained Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez.

”I really thought once they got Scott Feldman my chances went
down,” Norris said. ”But obviously we got a couple guys
now.”

The Orioles said Norris would make his debut on Thursday against
Houston. Scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday, Norris is
ready to pitch for Baltimore.

”I’m pretty fresh,” said Norris.

With Norris slipping into the rotation, Chris Tillman will move
back a day and start Friday against Seattle.

Baltimore has not said who will pitch in place of Hammel, who
was slated to start Saturday against Seattle. Hammel has a strained
flexor muscle in his right arm and was placed on the 15-day
disabled list Wednesday. He is 7-8 with a 5.20 ERA in 21 starts,
but winless since May 27.

”Honestly, until the MRI comes back I don’t know how to
describe it other than that it’s tight,” he said. ”Sometimes it
feels like it grabs when I throw. It’s not like a pinch, but I
think tightness is the one thing we can label it as. It’s not
allowing me to fully extend when I pitch.”

Hoes was one of the Orioles top prospects. A third round pick in
2008, Hoes was hitting .304 for Triple-A Norfolk before being
recalled on Sunday by the Orioles.

He was in Baltimore’s starting lineup Wednesday. Then, after the
trade, Hoes was inserted into Houston’s starting lineup.

”It’s not every day that you show up to a major league ballpark
and look at the opposing team’s lineup and see someone in the
lineup playing left field for that team, then an hour later he’s
been traded and is now on your team and is playing right field,”
Houston manager Bo Porter said.

For Hoes, the walk down the hall was bittersweet. He grew up in
the District of Columbia and now lives in Maryland, so Baltimore
was quite familiar to him. But in Houston, he will receive more
playing time.

”I kind of got my dream come true the other day, getting to
start for the hometown team,” Hoes said. ”Now, getting traded and
going to the opposite dugout and locker room, I’m going to be able
to make another start tonight and play against the Orioles. It’s
different. I never saw it coming, but it’s part of the game, it’s
part of life.”

For the Astros, the rebuilding process continues.

”Whenever you lose your opening day starter, and a guy that’s
been our best pitcher all year, it’s definitely a blow to the
ballclub,” Porter said. ”I think we have enough young pitching in
our organization that we feel comfortable moving forward that we
can replace those starts the rest of the year.”