Steve Pearce's slow start has come against a deck of aces

The Baltimore Sun

Orioles designated hitter Steve Pearce entered Thursday night hitless in his first 13 at-bats this season.

Certainly, it's not the way the 30-year-old wanted to start the year, but it is not without explanation.

Pearce has made five starts in 2013 — two against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner David Price (including Thursday), one against former Cy Young winner CC Sabathia, one against current AL ERA leader Clay Buchholz and one against Minnesota lefty Pedro Hernandez. Not an easy group to begin a season.

"The odds aren't in my favor, but I can't look at it like that," Pearce said. "I've got to go out there and I've got to find some way to compete, to grind at the plate and have good at-bats."

Because he hits right-handed, Pearce knew he'd get the call against tough lefties like Price and Sabathia. The lone righty he has faced is Buchholz, who is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA for the Boston Red Sox.

It's part of the challenge of being a reserve, said Orioles manager Buck Showalter.

"Stevie knows what's going on," Showalter said. "Trying to figure out a way to contribute against Price and Sabathia and whatever is hard to do. But he is capable. He's done it in the past."

Johnson likely headed to Triple-A

Right-hander Steve Johnson, who has been on the disabled list since before the season began with a lat strain, will likely make his 2013 debut for Triple-A Norfolk next week in Charlotte.

The 25-year-old right-hander will throw a side session this weekend and, if it goes well, he will start for the Tides in the Charlotte series, which begins Tuesday.

Johnson threw 70 pitches in four innings during an extended spring game Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.Showalter said.

Johnson, a St. Paul's graduate, was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 games (four starts) for the Orioles last year.

Other injury updates

Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada (elbow) threw three innings and 45 pitches in the same extended spring game as Johnson. Wada, who is on the 60-day disabled list while recovering from Tommy John surgery last May, is ticketed for four innings and likely 60 pitches in his next outing. He may be moved to a rehab assignment after that.

Brian Roberts (hamstring) has progressed from walking on an underwater treadmill to jogging on it. There is no set timetable for his return to baseball activities, but Showalter said Roberts is getting a "little better every day."

Around the horn

Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia, who will begin his pro career Friday with Double-A Bowie at Akron, will play both left and right field for the Baysox, Showalter said. The 26-year-old also could play some center field. … Lefty Zach Britton allowed five hits and one earned run in six innings for Triple-A Norfolk against Gwinnett. He walked two, struck out two, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. He threw 43 of his 85 pitches for strikes. ... The Rays homered in the first inning in each of the three games of this series.

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