BALTIMORE -- It's never a surprise to see Donnie Hart in the Orioles' clubhouse. The 27-year-old left-hander was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk for the seventh time this season July 10.
Hart allowed a run on two hits in 1.2 innings during the Orioles' 9-0 loss to the New York Yankees July 11.
In his first two seasons with the Orioles, Hart pitched 73 games. This year, he was hoping to finally pitch a complete season with the team. Instead, the Orioles opted to start the season with another left-hander, Rule 5 draft choice Nestor Cortes in the bullpen, and Hart began the year with Norfolk.
On April 13, three days after Cortes was cut, Hart made his trip north. His stays have usually only lasted a day or two, with his longest stint occurring May 13-20. In nine games, Hart has a 4.00 ERA.
"It's tough, but it's the big leagues," Hart said of his adventures. "If you can't be ready to be here, then you can't really be ready anyway, but it's fun."
Hart didn't know how many times he'd been summoned.
"No clue. I don't keep track of that," Hart said. "I just try to get here as quick as possible."
This time, the call-up to Baltimore was rather simple. Norfolk is on a break for the Triple-A All-Star Game, and Hart was in town visiting his girlfriend. Other times, it hasn't been so easy.
After a doubleheader May 13, the Orioles told Hart and outfielder Joey Rickard, who were in Gwinnett, Ga., with Norfolk, that they were needed for an afternoon game in Baltimore.
Hart and Rickard were told at about 1 a.m., and after just two hours sleep, they rode an hour to the Atlanta airport and boarded a 6 a.m. flight. Rickard homered twice and Hart pitched an inning during a 17-1 Orioles win.
"It has its challenges," Hart said. "Not every time in a perfect world can they call you the night before and tell you."
Hart has gotten used to being beckoned into manager Buck Showalter's office and receiving the news he must return to Norfolk.
"Donnie gets it," Showalter said. "He knows exactly. … I wouldn't say it's a short conversation. He controls it. He goes down there and pitches well, he comes back. There's always going to be a need. He's on the [40-man] roster. It's an easy up and down. He can pitch multiple days."
At Norfolk, Hart is 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 24 games, so he's been pitching well enough to earn those welcome calls, which have inevitably been followed by the call to see Showalter.
"You don't like going in there and having a meeting with him," Hart said. "… You deal with it and you keep pitching. When they need you, you come up here and try to do the best you can.
"… It's about understanding the situation. I think he has enough faith in me so that I know what's going on. … It's not necessarily what he's saying. I understand. He knows I understand."
Showalter knows Hart can take the news well.
"Just about every time he goes down there, he does the things that makes him worthy of coming back," Showalter said.
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