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Orioles pre-game notes: Buck on Johnson, Berken, Wieters

Major league baseball active rosters can be expanded to as many as 40 players Thursday. And while Buck Showalter said the organization has call-up candidates in mind, the Orioles manager said the club will expand its roster beyond 25 players only if it makes sense for the team and the organization.

"I think it's got to serve a purpose, whether it be what the club needs or what the organization needs to make better decisions in the offseason," Showalter said before tonight's game against the Yankees. "I know [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] feels the same way. We've got some people in mind that fit, but things could change."

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The statuses of injured players Jason Berken, Chris Davis and Cesar Izturis could alter the team's plans, and Showalter hasn't decided whether he will move right-hander Jim Johnson from the bullpen to the rotation.

Showalter will consider using a six-man rotation after the Yankees series -- he said he hasn't made up his mind on that, either -- and he wants to get through Thursday's call-ups before deciding about Johnson.

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Showalter would prefer to give Johnson some starts in September if he plans on permanently moving him to the rotation next spring. But he said that even if Johnson doesn't start a game this season, he could still be a candidate to join the rotation in 2012.

"It's certainly something that is being considered," Showalter said. "I'd prefer that, in a perfect world. That doesn't mean he can't do it. It's not like this is a guy that's never started before."

Showalter said he expects Berken, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain, to travel to the Orioles' minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., this week to begin throwing. Showalter said it has been a challenge to find Berken a game to pitch in when he gets down there and that the team might have to set up a simulated game. He hopes the 27-year-old reliever, whose wife is scheduled to be induced into labor tomorrow morning, rejoins the Orioles by mid-September.

Another topic of discussion before the game was All-Star catcher Matt Wieters, who is fifth in the league among qualifying catchers with a .265 batting average. But Showalter quickly changed the subject to another category in which Wieters is among the league leaders at his position: games played. Wieters, who is in the starting lineup tonight, will play in his 115th game, the fifth-highest total in the majors. Showalter said he is "proud" of Wieters for the increased workload (the 25-year-old is on pace to pass the 130 games he played in 2010), which Showalter credits to the catcher's maintaining his playing weight. "Last year, it dipped down pretty good," he said. "I'd love to have that problem. … Me, can't look at a Popsicle."

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