Second baseman Brian Roberts is expected to play for the Orioles this weekend for the first time since April.
And when he returns to the team, he will regain his starting spot at second base.
“If and when he comes back, yeah,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said when asked if Roberts was the definite starter at second. “We’ll spot him here and there but Brian, [it’s] the same way it was in the spring.”
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Roberts, the 35-year-old veteran who has been with the Orioles since 2001, was the club’s Opening Day starter at second base against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 2. But in his third game, he injured his right hamstring, which eventually required surgery. He has played in only 118 games since the 2010 season began due to myriad injuries.
He has been rehabbing with Triple-A Norfolk since Tuesday and Showalter expects Roberts in the Orioles lineup against the New York Yankees at some point this weekend. On Thursday, he was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and two walks as the Tides finished Wednesday's suspended game. In the second game of the doublheader, Roberts was 1-for-4 with an RBI at designated hitter.
With Roberts starting, the question becomes what happens to Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla, who have been sharing second base duties. Flaherty, who is hitting .200 on the season but has been much more effective in his second stint in the big leagues this year, can be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. Casilla, who is hitting .221, must clear waivers before being optioned.
But Showalter said he envisions a situation where all three could be on the 25-man roster.
“Sure, we have a DH spot too. We’re looking to spell somebody -- Brian included – to DH here and there, if we wanted to,” Showalter said. “Keep it moving around.”
If the Orioles keep Flaherty and Casilla on the roster when Roberts returns, then they’d likely have to designate another hitter – Travis Ishikawa, Danny Valencia or Chris Dickerson for assignment.
Ishikawa, who has two hits in 13 at-bats, is starting at first base tonight.