Brian Roberts, who had been in Sarasota rehabbing a partial labral tear in his hip, is playing at short-season Single-A Aberdeen today and, if all goes well after two games, could return to the Orioles, manager Buck Showalter said.

He said he is confident that if Roberts, who has played just 17 games this season, feels fine after two games, then that would be enough for his return potentially on Monday in New York.

"I would be comfortable with him down there for two days, because he's not that far removed. I know the activity has been going on down there, and it's not a 24-year-old guy, Brian has a lot of experience with this type of stuff and I think we can trust him on it," Showalter said. "I don't think it's going to affect his ability to have success up here by the length necessarily, the only thing we are trying to accomplish is to try and get a barometer on whether he is going to be able to do it. Obviously, we would have to make some corresponding moves to activate him."

Roberts, coming off more than a year layoff due to concussion issues, batted .182 in 17 games for the Orioles -- all at leadoff.

Since Nick Markakis came off the DL on July 9, he has been the club's leadoff hitter and has excelled, batting .359 with a .414 on-base percentage in 15 games.

Showalter said he's not going to worry about who bats leadoff if Roberts returns, but basically said that Roberts is a leadoff hitter whereas Markakis can hit throughout the lineup.

"That's a fair question but I'm going to wait to answer it until after two games in Aberdeen," Showalter said. "And what they tell me and what Brian thinks. He obviously has the most experience and like I said Nick is capable of hitting anywhere in the order in my mind where Brian is not."

The Orioles could have a crowded infield this upcoming week, because Robert Andino (left shoulder) is playing Sunday and Monday at Norfolk. If all goes well, he'll be ready to come off the DL on Tuesday.

Orioles designated hitter Jim Thome was not in Saturday's lineup. He is dealing with neck spasms, which Showalter said he learned about Saturday. Thome, 41, has been dealing with back issues for years and Showalter said Thome will be examined today to see if the neck issue is separate or if it is related to the back.

The Orioles also learned today that outfielder Steve Pearce, whom the club designated for assignment on July 21, was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros.

Pearce batted .254 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 28 games for the Orioles.