BALTIMORE — 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.
ROYALS: Kansas City acquired outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Houston Astros for minor league pitcher Kyle Smith on Wednesday in an attempt to upgrade their depth for the stretch run.
The speedy Maxwell was expected to join the Royals in time for the series finale Thursday in Minnesota. Kansas City will have to make a corresponding roster move.
The Royals were seeking a right-handed outfielder prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, and at least on paper achieved their goal. Maxwell is hitting just .214 with two homers and eight RBIs in 40 games this season, but he’s hitting .302 against left-handed pitchers.