Orioles manager Buck Showalter has said since the beginning of the season that he wanted to get outfielder Steve Pearce a start. But with Nelson Cruz entrenched in the lineup and Delmon Young playing well, Pearce remained on the bench.

At least until today.

Cruz is getting a day off, and Pearce is in the lineup as the designated hitter. He’ll be batting sixth. He’s the last hitter on the 25-man roster to get a start. He was hitless in three at-bats over two games coming into Sunday.

“[Showalter] told me last night, so it was good. I had a chance to mentally prepare,” Pearce said. “It’s tough, but baseball is a game that you’d like to get in there every day to establish a rhythm, but if you don’t play every day, you’ve got to work harder.”

Pearce, 31, batted .275 in the spring and was expected to make the team, but he wouldn’t let himself think that way. And he’s carried that mentality over to the regular season.

“This has always been my role. I’ve always had to grind,” Pearce said. “I’ve never had a job handed to me. It’s my everyday role. I come here to work, and when they put me in that lineup, I’ll play.”

One other note: Left-handed reliever Brian Matusz is back from a serious case of the flu that sent him to the hospital.

Orioles lineup: Markakis 9, Young 7, Jones 8, Davis 3, Wieters 2, Pearce DH, Hardy 6, Lombardozzi 4, Schoop 5. Jimenez 1.