Jair Jurrjens has spent the 2013 season in Triple-A, two years after making the National League All-Star team. On Saturday afternoon, he will get a chance to show that he doesn't need a return trip.
Jurrjens will take the ball for the Orioles in the second of their three-game set against the Rays at Camden Yards, as he fills in for the injured Wei-Yin Chen. He will oppose Roberto Hernandez as he tries to stop Baltimore's losing streak at a season-high three games in his first big league outing since last July 22.
The 27-year-old right-hander owns a career 53-37 record and 3.62 ERA in 126 Major League games. He went 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA in 2011 with the Braves, but a right knee injury cut that season short and contributed to a sharp drop in velocity that contributed to his 6.89 ERA in 11 games last year.
Jurrjens came to Spring Training with the Orioles as a non-roster invitee, and he now gets his opportunity after going 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA over eight starts with Norfolk.
"I've been just trying to get my stuff back together and just keep working, and trying to have fun again playing baseball," Jurrjens said. "I've been doing that, and have been working hard to try and get better."
Jurrjens said that although he has not been paying attention to his velocity, he feels good and is encouraged by the number of swings and misses he has been generating. Of course, big league hitters are a bit tougher to deal with than those in the International League.
"It's a little bit difficult, because guys down there are just going up there and swinging," Jurrjens said. "Here, guys are more patient and look for one pitch to hit. I know it is different, but when people swing and miss, you know something is working. And there are a lot of big league hitters down in Triple-A too that played in the big leagues. I know for sure it is going to change, swings and misses up here, but I'm just going to try to throw strikes and get people out."
Jurrjens will be making not only his first start at Camden Yards but also his first against the Rays. He did face Tampa Bay once in Grapefruit League play this spring, tossing five scoreless innings on March 22.
"We saw him a little bit in Spring Training," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He looks like a command guy with a lot of different pitches, mixes speeds, knows what he's doing. That's what I saw."
Maddon will counter with Hernandez (2-4, 4.43 ERA), who hasn't tasted much success on the road or against the Orioles this season. The right-hander has a 6.50 ERA in three starts away from Tropicana Field and has surrendered seven earned runs in 12 innings in his two matchups with Baltimore.
On the other hand, Hernandez has completed at least six innings in six of his seven outings, racking up 41 strikeouts in 42 2/3 frames overall. On Sunday, he limited the Padres to two runs on five hits over six innings.
Rays: Rodney a little off
Closer Fernando Rodney already has allowed nine runs this season, the same number he gave up all of last season, when he posted a 0.60 ERA and saved 48 games. He suffered his third blown save on Thursday, one more than he endured in 2012.
Maddon said that stuff is not the issue. Rather, it's command. Rodney has issued 15 walks in 15 1/3 innings.
"I don't have any solid answers," Maddon said. "We've discussed different things with him to try to get him to replicate what he had been doing more closely, and I think he has. I thought we had worked through it, and then all of a sudden [what happened Thursday night]."
• First baseman James Loney has recorded multiple hits in 13 of his past 22 starts going back to April 17. Over that span, comprising 28 total games, he is hitting .436 with 10 doubles, three home runs and 17 RBIs.
Orioles: New-look lineup
Manager Buck Showalter made some changes to his lineup on Friday, with three players starting at a position for the first time this season. Yamaico Navarro played second base, Chris Dickerson was in left field, and Nate McLouth slotted in at designated hitter.
It was the first big league action of the year for Navarro, a right-handed hitter who was recalled from Triple-A on Tuesday. A .191 hitter in 168 previous plate appearances for the Red Sox, Royals and Pirates, he went 2-for-4 with a triple on Friday. With Brian Roberts out for most of the season, Orioles second basemen -- primarily Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla -- entered the day hitting .187 with a .530 OPS.
Dickerson was getting his sixth start overall this season, including four in right field and one in center. He is 8-for-25 for the Orioles this season after blasting a three-run homer on Friday.
• Four Rays hitters have experience against Jurrjens. Loney is the only one with more than seven plate appearances, going 6-for-19 with three doubles.
• The Rays can even the season series at 4-4 with a win on Saturday.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.