O's add second lefty, call up Tolliver from Double-A

O's add second lefty, call up Tolliver from Double-A

HOUSTON -- The Orioles' Double-A Bowie affiliate has been going through a rough stretch, and Monday night's game, a 13-inning loss at Hartford, was no exception. Still, when manager Gary Kendall gathered the group for a postgame speech, he reminded them there is still some pretty cool stuff that happens in this game.

Like Bowie's own Ashur Tolliver, who pitching coach Alan Mills revealed was getting the call up to Baltimore for his Major League debut. The visitors' clubhouse went nuts.

"Everybody got up, all the guys I've played with all these years," the 28-year-old Tolliver said. "Gary, Alan Mills. It was pretty special, all these guys that I've come up with."

Tolliver, who will give the Orioles a second lefty in the bullpen to go with closer Zach Britton, has an inspiring backstory. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 Draft, Tolliver had labrum surgery on his left shoulder in the spring of 2012, and he said it took years for him to feel like his old self. He started to catch the O's eye last year at Bowie and re-signed with Baltimore this offseason instead of electing to test free agency.

"I couldn't write it any better. I think going through everything has made it that much better," said Tolliver, who continued to impress in his first big league camp this spring. "Just thinking about it, I'm so blessed to be an Oriole. I love it here, I'm so glad I signed back here. Just the familiarity with the guys, the front-office people. All the coaches from lowest [Class] A to the big leagues. Just getting to experience it here makes it extra special."

Tolliver has mostly been used in the seventh and eighth innings at Bowie this year, and he has gone 1-1 with two saves and a 2.42 ERA using an arsenal of a fastball, changeup and curveball. He has allowed 22 hits with eight walks and 25 strikeouts over 26 innings, and he has held opposing batters to a .237 average.

Tolliver takes the 25-man roster spot of Brian Matusz, who was traded to Atlanta and designated for assignment on Monday night.

"Brian and I have been together for a long time. I was talking to him yesterday, and he seemed to be in good spirits," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think he knows this is a good thing for him in the long run. Now he kind of gets to pick where he's going. He goes home until everything clears.

"I know in the back of his mind, he'd love to have an opportunity to start. Hopefully, somebody will give him that. He'll be in the big leagues again, and he'll pitch well again. And I hope he does. We'll be pulling for him. He did a lot of good things for us, and will again in his baseball lifetime. But this too shall pass, and in the long run I think it'll be a good break for him and hopefully work out for everybody."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.