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Orioles' Reynolds serves as DH, will take balls at first base

BaseballMark ReynoldsBrian RobertsBaltimore OriolesRay Flaherty

In the offseason, Orioles manager Buck Showalter had already anointed Mark Reynolds the team's starting third baseman heading into the season. Despite Reynolds' 26 errors in 114 games at third last year, Showalter lauded his dedication to becoming a better third baseman in 2012.

But after making two errors in five games there to start the season, Reynolds was the designated hitter for Friday's series opener in Toronto — Wilson Betemit started at third — and Showalter said Reynolds will begin taking ground balls at first base.

"I had a good conversation with Mark the other day; he was talking about the most fun he ever had in baseball was the year he went to the playoffs in Arizona, and how much he wants to be a part of that again. He'll do whatever it takes," Showalter said. "He's going to do some ground balls and he's going to get some work in at first base to make sure he's ready to do anything."

Reynolds made a costly fielding error Tuesday night, extending an eventual three-run sixth in the Orioles' 12-inning, 5-4 loss to the Yankees, and also misplayed a foul ball before New York scored the winning run in the 12th.

Showalter said he's by no means moving Reynolds from third but instead taking advantage of his versatility — Reynolds made five errors in 44 games at first last year. The Orioles have several players who can play first, among them starter Chris Davis, veteran Nick Johnson and utility men Betemit and Ryan Flaherty.

"I want to take advantage of his versatility," Showalter said of Reynolds. "I just want everybody to feel like they are a part of it because they are, and I want everybody to know we are going to ask them to make contributions. ... That's what it's all about. Our guys have been great with it. They want to win."

Roberts back on road

Second baseman Brian Roberts, on the disabled list recovering from multiple concussions, is on his first road trip with the team since last May.

In another measured step toward a comeback, Roberts will be with the team in Toronto and accompany the Orioles to Chicago. It's still to be determined whether he'll make the trip to Anaheim, Calif., for the last leg of the three-city trip.

"I talked to Buck a little bit about it a little bit, but we really haven't made a commitment to whether I should just go back to Baltimore and get my work in there or stay on the trip," Roberts said. "It won't necessarily be because something's wrong or not wrong. It will just be a decision on what's the best way to get my work in."

The focus for Roberts is to get readjusted to traveling on the road. On Monday, Roberts took early batting practice, then did some lifting and speed work and also participated in pre-game batting practice.

"Coming off the last year, where I had to sit down there [in Florida] and be isolated and not really be part of the team, this is what I'm supposed to be doing still, is playing baseball and traveling and being part of the team," Roberts said. "And [to] feel like you are not getting to do what you're supposed to be doing, it's hard. So it's a big deal to get involved with the guys and travel and get used to that aspect again."

Another part of Roberts' recovery is watching games from the dugout and taking in all the sensory aspects. He said he watched seven innings Saturday but that was probably too much and he took a step back. He said he would try to watch four to six innings during this series.

"This is a big step: Where are we at the end of these seven to 10 days, and how do I handle all of this?" Roberts said. "I still haven't sat out there and watched nine innings consecutively, day after day, so there are some things I still need to continue, but we want to do it systematically and we want to do it so we don't go backward so when I do get on the field, this doesn't happen again."

Lindstrom says he's healthy

Right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom, who Showalter said wasn't available for Wednesday's extra-inning loss to the Yankees because of back issues, said he could have pitched that night.

"It might have been a little uncomfortable, but I feel way better after that off day [Thursday]," Lindstrom said. "I'm looking to get out there and get a good body of work going.

Lindstrom said he aggravated his back pitching 11/3 innings of relief against the Yankees on Tuesday night. He said he has had some back spasms since the spring. He also was hindered by a hamstring injury during spring training.

"It's just been a lot of weird stuff," Lindstrom said. "I was working hard in spring training, and I needed to do a little bit extra and I ended up straining something. I feel like I've finally got my lower half healthy and that all that is behind me."

Flaherty to get start

Rookie utility man Ryan Flaherty is the only remaining Orioles position player who has yet to start a game, but Showalter said Flaherty will start Saturday or Sunday against the Blue Jays.

Showalter said he had planned to give Flaherty, the team's Rule 5 pick in December, his first start on the Orioles' first road trip.

"I actually think it's kind of good for him," Showalter said. "Just got his feet wet a little bit. It's kind of like [Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Yin] Chen, how we waited with him. Just to let him step back and absorb everything. [A] lot of new things [are] being thrown at him that he's never had before, so I think my plan all along was to try to start him on the first road trip, maybe get his feet wet a little bit at home if we could."

Flaherty's only game action was as a substitute third baseman last Saturday. He didn't get an at-bat that night.

Around the horn

Showalter made a slight adjustment to the pitching rotation. Right-hander Jake Arrieta, who was given an extra day of rest because of Thursday's day off, is scheduled to pitch the series opener against the White Sox in Chicago on Monday night, depending on the health of the bullpen. That would push back Chen to Tuesday. … Adam Jones' fourth-inning single broke an 0-for-18 slump with runners in scoring position for the Nos. 2-5 hitters in the Orioles' lineup. ... Left-hander Dontrelle Willis, who left Triple-A Norfolk's game Wednesday after nine pitches, was placed on the seven-day disabled list Thursday with a left forearm strain. In other minor league moves, infielder Zelous Wheeler was reassigned from Norfolk to Double-A Bowie, right-handers Miguel Gonzalez and Kyler Newby were added to the Tides' roster from extended spring training and the Baysox released outfielder Edgardo Baez on Friday to make room for Wheeler.

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BaseballMark ReynoldsBrian RobertsBaltimore OriolesRay Flaherty
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