ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Orioles infielder Robert Andino made his first start Friday since being activated from the disabled list before Tuesday's game, playing third base in the team's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Andino, who has made just six of his 75 starts at third this season, could find himself there more often, especially against left-handed pitching.
With recently acquired Omar Quintinilla — who arrived shortly after Andino went on the DL with a left shoulder strain July 17 — playing well at second base, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has repeatedly said both Quintanilla and Andino will play significant roles.
Wilson Betemit had started each of the Orioles' past 20 games, most of them at third base, and entered Friday riding a six-game hitting streak. But he was out of Friday's lineup.
Betemit is hitting .458 (11-for-24) during his hiting streak with four extra-base hits (3 doubles, 1 homer) and three RBIs. He was 7-for-11 in the three-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx.
But Andino is arguably the team's best defensive option at third base, and his availability allows the Orioles to sit the switch-hitting Betemit against left-handed pitching (he's hitting a moribund .146 against southpaws).
So look for Andino, a .230 hitter this season who is batting four points higher against left-handed pitching, to find his innings at third base more often. He started Friday against Rays lefty Matt Moore, and Showalter said he will likely start Sunday against left-hander David Price.
"I'd like to give Robert some time there here or there," Showalter said. "Keeps everybody involved in playing."
With Jim Thome out indefinitely with a herniated disk, Chris Davis has made six straight starts in the DH spot. Showalter has said he likes to have some flexibility in the DH position — and the experimentplaying Davis in left field has worked well — but he expects Davis to get the majority of the at bats at DH while Thome is sidelined.
"It just fits better with Lew [Ford] here and Endy [Chavez] and Robert," Showalter said. "We are starting to get some of the people that allow us to move the pieces around. Chris can still play in the outfield and first base, but this is a little better fit right now. Don't really have somebody that is in need of [playing DH] right now. And this time of year, one day off or one day DH'ing it's not exactly going to recharge your battery."
Wada in uniform
Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, out for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery, joined his teammates in Tampa Bay to watch this series from the Orioles' dugout.
Wada, who had the reconstructive elbow surgery May 11, has been rehabbing at the Orioles' spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., and asked Showalter if he could be with the team here.
Friday's was the first major league game the former Fukuoka Softbank Hawks pitcher, signed in December, had attended. When he arrived in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field, he had a locker with a uniform — any player in the dugout must be in uniform.
"I might let Wada take the lineup out," joked Showalter about the Japanese-born Wada, who speaks through an interpreter. "And let him go over the [ground rules].
Around the horn
Showalter said left hander Zach Britton will make his next scheduled start Tuesday at home against the Mariners. … The Orioles did not add Triple-A oufielder Nate McLouth to the roster before Friday's game. McLouth could opt out of his contract using an out clause that was scheduled to go into affect at midnight if he wasn't added to the 25-man roster. … Designated hitter Jim Thome received an epidural injection Friday in California to alleviate pain for a herniated disk in his neck. … Second baseman Brian Roberts had surgery on a labrum tear in his hip Friday. … The Orioles dealt Triple-A Norfolk right hander Pat Neshek to the A's for future considerations. The sidearm-throwing Neshek was 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA and 11 saves with 49 strikeouts and 7 walks in 44 innings. … Triple-A Norfolk pitcher Jake Arrieta was ejected from Thursday's game after arguing balls and strikes as he was leaving the game. Tides manager Ron Johnson was also ejected. … Friday marked the second anniversary of Showalter's first game as Orioles manager. heading into Friday, the O's had a a 158-166 record under Showalter. His .488 winning percentage is eighth best in franchise history.
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