BALTIMORE -- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts played catch with infield coach Juan Samuel prior to Saturday's game against the Indians, and manager Dave Trembley confirmed that the injured Roberts has been cleared to start participating in baseball-related activities.
"I am encouraged," Trembley said. "[Roberts is] feeling better, but he's got a ways to go yet."
Roberts played catch on Friday, but Saturday marked the first full day of activities, with Roberts also taking ground balls. Trembley wasn't sure of Roberts' progression following Saturday since he will have to be evaluated by head athletic trainer Richard Bancells before adding anything further.
The Orioles' leadoff hitter, Roberts suffered a herniated disk in his lower back during offseason workouts in Arizona. Following 19 spring at-bats, Roberts was deemed ready to play but reinjured himself on a slide into second base in the April 9 home opener. He was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 12, retroactive to the date of the injury.
To clear a roster spot for Wednesday's addition of Corey Patterson, the Orioles moved Roberts to the 60-day DL, which would make him eligible to return as early as June 10.
Prior to Friday's game, Roberts confirmed to MLB.com that his target date is the first day he's eligible off the DL.
Gonzalez throws side session from mound
BALTIMORE-- Rehabbing Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez threw off a mound at the team's Spring Training complex in Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday, making the first time in his progression that he's been up on the hill.
Gonzalez has been working his way back from a left-shoulder strain that he has said previously started to plague him in the days leading up to April 10, which was his final appearance before being placed on the 15-day disabled list April 15.
Prior to Saturday's side session, Gonzalez had been throwing on flat ground at increasing distances and if he has no setbacks could rejoin the team in early June. Gonzalez appeared in three games for the Orioles, pitching to an 0-2 record and an 18.00 ERA, before being put on the shelf.
In his absence, the Orioles have relied heavily on Alfredo Simon, who has become the team's de facto closer. A power pitcher, Simon has gone 5-for-5 in save opportunities and has not allowed an earned run in all eight appearances.
Hughes optioned to Triple-A Norfolk
BALTIMORE-- Following Saturday's 8-2 loss, the Orioles optioned rookie Rhyne Hughes back to Triple-A Norfolk.
Hughes did not play in Saturday's game but had been marred in a a 3-for-24 skid with 12 strikeouts in his last eight games. Following an April 24 recall from Norfolk, Hughes got off to a blistering start, going 5-for-13 and setting a new Orioles rookie record with an RBI in each of his first three games. He became just the second player in franchise history to begin his Major League career with a pair of multi-hit games and an RBI, but wasn't able to maintain anything close to that initial success.
"Of course it's disappointing you never want to get sent down or anything like that," Hughes said. "But it's OK; just going to go down there [to Norfolk] and try to do what I was doing before just to be ready whenever they need me again."
Prior to Saturday's game, Orioles manager Dave Trembley noted that Hughes' mechanics were "drifting" and said he was swinging underneath the ball and choosing bad pitches. Hughes -- who took early extra batting practice Saturday afternoon -- will try to regain his swing when he joins the Tides on Tuesday.
At the time of his promotion, Hughes was ranked among the International League top 10 in slugging percentage, batting average and on-base percentage and admitted on Saturday night that he had started to get away from what was working at the plate.
"I just had a rough spot, that's all," Hughes said. "You know, some things I wasn't doing the way I was doing before. Just need to get back to doing it."
The Orioles won't announce a corresponding roster move until Sunday, and could add a reliever (Kam Mickolio or Alberto Castillo) instead of another position player to fill Hughes' spot.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.