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.”