ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — The loss of right fielder Nick Markakis leaves manager Buck Showalter with yet another glaring hole to fill in the lineup.
And Friday night's lineup against the Tampa Bay Rays didn't look like one of a team playing to stay in first place in the American League East. But with eight players on the disabled list, filling out the lineup has required more spontaneous creativity from Showalter.
Friday's featured Steve Tolleson, usually a utility infielder, in left field for his first start there in his big-league career. Veteran Bill Hall, who rejoined the team from Triple-A Norfolk Friday morning, started in right field.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has batted second all season, filled Markakis' typical No. 3 spot, with Tolleson hitting second.
"I look at it as trying to hold the fort down until we get some of our pieces back," Showalter said. "And I look at it as an opportunity for some of our other guys to help us. But it's not a challenge that anybody else in baseball isn't facing. We're moving some things around."
Tolleson, who has made all of his seven starts for the Orioles this season at third baseplayed just one inning in left in his big-league career. But he's played 62 games in left in the minor leagues, including 24 last season at the Triple-A level.
In his 11-year big-league career, Hall has made 207 starts in the outfield, but only 17 in right.
"[I've] spent a lot of time during the spring, especially the last week, looking at defensive history," Showalter said. "Unfortunately, I've got it wired."
Britton likely heading to Norfolk
Left-hander Zach Britton, who shined in his second minor-league rehab start at Double-A Bowie on Thursday, will likely make his next start Tuesday for Triple-A Norfolk.
Britton, recovering from left-shoulder impingement that has kept him on the DL all season, allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits over seven innings Thursday at Akron. In two minor-league starts, Britton owns a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings.
Showalter said the organization feels Britton is healthy — though he just began a 30-day minor-league rehab window last week — so the club's decision lies in whether he should be pitching at the big-league lever or in Triple-A.
"At this point it's more of a baseball evaluation than a health thing," Showalter said.
Roberts to 60-day disabled list
In order to make room for Hall on the 40-man roster, the Orioles transferred second baseman Brian Roberts to the 60-day disabled list.
The 20-day window for Roberts' minor-league rehab assignment ends on June 11, but he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on March 26, so he's already eligible to return.
Making a comeback from multiple concussions, Roberts returned to Double-A Bowie on Friday after two home games for low-Class A Delmarva. He batted leadoff and started at second base. Roberts is 3-for-14 in seven minor-league rehab games.
"Brian's feeling good," Showalter said. "It's just an unknown. I don't know what each day is going to bring. I check it and I continue to get good reports. He's getting deeper and deeper in the games. By the time he gets to the Norfolk club, he's probably going to be looking at nine innings, eight or nine innings."
Around the horn
Left fielder Nolan Reimold is continuing to respond well to his second epidural injection. Showalter said the tingling in his left arm is reduced to just a few spots. "Now he just has a couple spots [of tingling], which tells you he's getting pretty close," Showalter said. "If we can get rid of those two spots, we'll be able to stay away from the third [epidural], because it seems like the inflammation and the pain has just about subsided. The next step is getting the strength back." Reimold hasn't done any baseball activity in a month. ... After alluding to the fact that Blue Jays hitters knew when he was throwing breaking balls Wednesday night, Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel said he was still surprised, but didn't want to accuse Toronto of stealing signs. "It was just surprising," he said. "I just didn't understand it. I understand when you're not locating your pitches, you're going to give up hits. I'm not trying to start a war here. It was just surprising how comfortable they were."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun