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Orioles' Showalter has no reservations about putting Reynolds back at third

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he talked to third baseman Mark Reynolds before Wednesday's game and had no hesitation about putting the veteran back at third base.

"Mark and I talked today. We have an off day [Thursday]," Showalter said. "Head out on the road, and I thought it was important for him to get right back on the horse."

Reynolds made a key fielding error on a grounder Tuesday night that allowed the New York Yankees to get back into a game they eventually won, 5-4, in 12 innings.

"I didn't consider it too long, but I understand what topics of conversations are," Showalter said. "They are certainly not going to be about the three or four above-average plays he has made. It's going to be about the other stuff. We had plenty of opportunities in that game last night to not make anything like that matter."

Showalter said it's difficult to see Reynolds struggle defensively — he has made two errors in five games, and first baseman Chris Davis saved him from one other — because Reynolds worked so hard to improve from his 26 errors at third base last season.

"That's part of the reason why he is in there today," Showalter said. "This is a guy that has put in probably as much hard work as anybody on our club during the offseason ,and it's kind of frustrating for us not to see him get a return for it."

Reynolds took the blame after Tuesday's loss, something that further earned the respect of his teammates.

"There's no one that's hurting more than him right now," said shortstop J.J. Hardy, Reynolds' closest friend on the team. "We all know how much work he has put into this. We all saw improvement in spring training. So it's hard, we all feel for him. We all know what he is capable of doing."

Hardy said people always talk about hitting slumps, but there are fielding slumps, too, and players have to work their way out of those rough times in front of the masses.

"When you don't make a pla,y there is probably no worse feeling in the world for us," Hardy said. "You have however many fans in the stands, and everyone is looking at you. It's a [terrible] feeling, and no one feels worse than he does."

Orioles sign Pineiro

The Orioles have signed 33-year-old right-hander Joel Pineiro to a minor league deal. He reported Wednesday to the club's extended spring complex in Sarasota, Fla., where he will work out until he is ready to pitch in games — likely beginning atTriple-A Norfolk.

Pineiro, who was 7-7 with a 5.13 ERA in 27 games (24 starts) with the Los Angeles Angels last year, was released by the Philadelphia Phillies in March after allowing seven hits and five runs (three earned) in six Grapefruit League innings.

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Pineiro was signed to give the Orioles an option as a long reliever. The club is without a true long man, partially because right-hander Alfredo Simon was claimed on waivers by the Cincinnati Reds this month.

"We lost Simon, he was the candidate to be the right-handed long guy," Duquette said. "And so we needed a long man."

In a 12-season career, Pineiro is 104-93 with a 4.41 ERA in 335 games (263 starts). He is 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA in 72 big league games as a reliever.

Wieters explains slider call

When young reliever Pedro Strop hung a slider to Raul Ibanez in Tuesday night's game, it was easy to wonder why catcher Matt Wieters would call for an off-speed pitch after Strop got ahead in the count with two sizzling fastballs. Wieters, however, did not second-guess the decision that led to Ibanez's game-winning double in the 12th inning.

"The slider he threw 0-1 [for a ball] was just nasty." Wieters said. "If he had thrown that same slider, [Ibanez] would have swung right over it."

The alternative, of course, would have been one more 96 mph fastball, since Ibanez was not close to the first one and watched the second slice across the outside half of the plate.

"That's one way to go," Wieters said, "but I thought, if we make the same pitch [as the 0-1 slider], we're getting him out. If you throw the fastball and he gets the bat on it at all, it might get through the infield. The slider is a little more dangerous if you don't throw it where you want it, but if Stropy throws it the way I know he can, it's a strikeout."

Rotation stays in line

Showalter said his rotation for the series in Toronto, which starts Friday, will stay in line. Tommy Hunter will pitch the opener against the Blue Jays, Jason Hammel will pitch Saturday and Brian Matusz will pitch Sunday afternoon. Showalter said he was waiting to see how Hunter, who had had back issues early in the spring, responded from his scheduled bullpen session Tuesday.

"We were waiting to see how Tommy's work day went. … It went well. I just wanted to make sure he was physically fine," Showalter said about Hunter, who threw seven scoreless innings in his first start this season. "There's a lot of me that wants him to be just like he was last time."

Around the horn

First pitch was delayed 20 minutes by a rainstorm that began when the national anthem started. … Showalter said he still believes Brian Roberts (concussion) will join the club for part of its first road trip so that he can be with the team in the dugout. He remains on the disabled list, and there is no date set for his return. … Yankees closer Mariano Rivera's save Tuesday gave him 39 at Camden Yards, tying him with Randy Myers for second most in stadium history. Jorge Julio holds the Camden Yards record with 43. … Showalter said catcher Taylor Teagarden (back) is working out on a treadmill in Sarasota. No timetable has been announced for his return. ... Jake Arrieta will pitch April 16 at the Chicago White Sox on regular rest. That pushes Wei-Yin Chen back to April 17, allowing him six days' rest between starts. … Norfolk blew a seven-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday and lost to Gwinnett, 14-12, in 11 innings. The losing pitcher was lefty Dontrelle Willis, who walked one batter and had to leave in mid-count against a second because he tweaked his left forearm. Tides infielder Steve Tolleson replaced Willis — the second pitching appearance of Tolleson's career. Outfielder Xavier Avery hit his first Triple-A homer in the game. ... Dylan Bundy, the Orioles' top pick in last year's draft, struck out six of the nine batters he faced Wednesday night in his second pro start for Low-A Delmarva. He pitched three scoreless innings and now has thrown six scoreless, hitless frames while striking out 12 of 18 batters in two games for the Shorebirds. He struck out the final five he faced Wednesday.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

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