Roberts' return to O's nears next step
Second baseman to play in extended spring games
NEW YORK -- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will play five innings in an extended spring game on Friday with the expectation that he will get a few at-bats and continue to progress toward a return that could come as soon as mid-June.
O's manager Dave Trembley said prior to Tuesday's game against the Yankees in New York that Roberts will play a handful of games at the team's Minor League complex at Sarasota, Fla., from Friday until June 9 and will likely go on a rehab assignment after that.
Roberts, on the 60-day disabled list with a herniated disc in his lower back, is eligible to be activated on June 9, and although the second baseman won't be ready by then, Trembley acknowledged that Roberts' return is nearing.
"He's done very well," Trembley said. "He's hit every day live. He's taken ground balls; he's run the bases."
One of the game's premier leadoff hitters, Roberts has only compounded the problems of a struggling Baltimore offense with his absence. The Orioles entered Tuesday's game having been outscored by opponents, 253-175, and scored three runs or fewer in 31 of 51 games.
"It's not to make an excuse, but we have not been able to replace Roberts," Trembley said.
The Orioles, who entered Tuesday with a 15-36 record, have also sorely missed the bat of outfielder Felix Pie, who is on the 60-day DL with an upper back strain. Pie is also in Sarasota and will begin a throwing program this week, the first baseball-related activities for the outfielder since he was sidelined.
Arrieta making noise from Triple-A
NEW YORK -- Touted Orioles prospect Jake Arrieta tossed eight innings of one-run ball at Triple-A on Monday night, continuing to make a case that he's Major League-ready.
"It's not my call," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said when asked if Arrieta's performance in the Minors is becoming too good to ignore.
"We've gotten good reports on him. I'm sure [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] and everyone else is aware of what he's doing and what the proper timeframe is."
The 24-year-old Arrieta is 6-2 with a 1.91 ERA in 11 starts and is holding International League opponents to a .183 batting average. The right-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his past six starts and has kept his walks -- an organizational concern -- in check, having issued just two free passes in each of his past three outings.
"I honestly think that [the Orioles] know that I'm ready to pitch in the big leagues," Arrieta said in a phone interview with MLB.com. "For me, it's just a matter of having a spot open or whatever it might be.
"I think that they've noticed something with me down here, so we'll see what happens."
One of Arrieta's rotationmates at Norfolk, Chris Tillman, was recalled and made his season debut in Toronto on Saturday, assuming the roster spot vacated when the O's moved David Hernandez to the bullpen. But the 22-year-old Tillman is on Baltimore's 40-man roster while Arrieta is not, meaning a promotion for Arrieta -- even to join the team's beleaguered bullpen -- would involved some roster shuffling.
"We'll have to see where that takes us," Trembley said. "I know [Arrieta has] done a nice job. I guess he says he's ready. That's nice to hear. You need confidence to compete up here. I don't think he's lacking in that area, which is good for a young guy."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.