– Orioles third baseman Wilson Betemit began his big-league career with the Braves, spending parts of four seasons as the organization's shortstop of the future.
Six organizations later, Betemit returns to Atlanta for the third time since he was traded by the Braves to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006. And Orioles manager Buck Showalter was determined to have Betemit in the starting lineup.
Betemit's splits at Turner Field are the best of any ballpark in the majors where he has at least 100 career at bats. Betemit is 67-for-212 in Atlanta, hitting .316/.393/.472 with five homers and 17 RBIs .
"A big thing is his NL [experience]," Showalter said. "He feels comfortable in these ballparks. I look at certain things that seem to stay their course. One thing is guys in ballparks, pitchers and position players. Sometimes it's just a familiarity that makes players comfortable. It usually holds true. "
Betemit was 2-for-3 with a double in Friday's series opener, and has five hits in his last six at bats dating back to a three-RBI game on Wednesday against Pittsburgh, raising his average 21 points over his last two games.
Betemit said he's trying to stay more disciplined at the plate.
"Before then, I was thinking too much when I was going to the plate," Betemit said. "Right now, I'm watching every time when they throw me a curveball. I'm looking for one pitch to hit. I'm more patient. With men on base, we know they're not going to throw me a fastball up the middle, so I have to look for a good pitch to hit. Sometimes they throw me those curveballs right in the dirt and I chase it. Now I'm more patient and looking for a good pitch to hit."
Chris Davis back in right field
After making his first major league start in right field on Friday, Chris Davis was back there again Saturday.
Davis made the Orioles' best defensive play in the sixth inning, robbing Chipper Jones of extra bases with a diving catch down the right-field line.
"I think Chris is having a lot of fun in right field so far," Showalter said. "I think he's looking at it as a chance to one, hopefully help the team and two, to show me he can play somewhere else if so needed. But we knew that coming into the season."
Before Friday, Davis — who opened the season as the team's everyday first baseman — made his previous 11 starts at DH. On Friday, Davis said he was excited to be playing in the field again and made it clear he wasn't happy with the idea of being a full-time DH.
"That's worked out too," Showalter said. We've said about it in the offseason, unless somebody really became apparent, we wanted to keep that DH spot maneuverable. We'd like to have a DH who can play other places and Chris can play all four corners if so needed. So it gives us an option if so needed."
Markakis could be cleared Friday
Orioles rightfielder Nick Markakis, who had surgery two weeks ago to remove a fractured hamate bone chip from his right wrist, is scheduled to see a doctor on Friday and could then be cleared to resume hitting activities.
Markakis, who has never been on the disabled list before in his big-league career, hasn't been able to pick up a bat as the surgery wound heals. He is traveling with the team and able to do non-hitting activities.
Britton making third Norfolk start
Left-hander Zach Britton made his third start at Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday and Showalter emphasized that the 24-year-old is no longer rehabbing his left shoulder, but in the process of proving he belongs in the majors.
"He's a guy who is on the Triple-A roster," Showalter said. "He's optioned down there and he's one of their five starters. I ask as much about Tillman, Berken, Moyer, Gonzalez. He's one of the guys who is looking for an opportunity if we have a need here. He controls that, but don't have it written down that this is the day Zach Britton is pitching. I look at the box scored and read the minor league reports as they come across."
Britton entered Saturday's start 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA in 10 2/3 innings at Norfolk.
Around the horn:
Second baseman Brian Roberts will get Sunday's day-after-night game off, his first off day since returning on Tuesday. "He's not asking for it," Showalter said. "He doesn't feel like he necessarily needs it. It's a thing that I'll decide." Robert Andino will start in his place. … The Orioles must prepare to be without left-handed reliever Dana Eveland at some point over the next few weeks. His wife is due to give birth on June 26. … The Orioles traded left-handed minor-league pitcher Cole McCurry to the Braves for cash. McCurry, the club's 43rd-round draft pick in 2007, was 0-7 with a 6.10 ERA (13 appearances, 9 starts) at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He has just been reassigned to short-season Class A Aberdeen. He was 9-3 with a 2.57 ERA pitching at all three minor-league levels in 2011.
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