Roberts targets June 10 for infield rehab
Orioles expect second baseman to continue progressing
NEW YORK -- According to Orioles manager Dave Trembley, Brian Roberts -- sidelined with a herniated disc in his lower back -- will play in his first extended spring game on Friday and then progress toward playing a full game at second base, which is scheduled for June 10.
Roberts -- currently rehabbing at the O's Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla. -- is expected to get four at-bats as the team's designated hitter on Saturday before taking Sunday off. He will play seven innings at second base next Monday and follow that with another four at-bats as a DH. Roberts will get June 9 off and play his first full game at second base the following day.
Roberts is on the 60-day disabled list and eligible to be activated on June 9, although he won't be ready by then. Still, all reports out of Sarasota have been positive, and Trembley acknowledged prior to Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Yankees in New York that Roberts might not be far off from June 9, with a return perhaps coming as early as mid-June.
Setup man Jim Johnson, out with right elbow inflammation, is scheduled to start a throwing program on Monday in Sarasota, while Felix Pie -- sidelined with an upper back strain -- will start throwing later this week. Trembley also said that reliever Alfredo Simon (left hamstring strain) is throwing and righty Koji Uehara (right forearm strain) is on a long-toss program.
Hernandez earns O's trust late in games
NEW YORK -- When asked last week about pitching for the Orioles in a long-relief role, converted starter David Hernandez made it clear he would prefer to be involved in the later innings, particularly in pressurized situations when the game is on the line.
In Tuesday's 3-1 loss, Hernandez got his wish and passed with flying colors.
The 25-year-old righty entered a tied game with two outs in the seventh inning and was tasked with facing Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez with runners on second and third. Hernandez got A-Rod to swing at the first pitch for a routine ground ball to third.
The execution was perfect, but Miguel Tejada's throw to first base fell short and skipped away from Ty Wigginton, who fell over in an unsuccessful scoop attempt and allowed two unearned runs to score.
While the O's defense didn't come through, Hernandez went on to toss 1 1/3 scoreless innings, picking up a pair of strikeouts and not allowing another baserunner. In his first two appearances out of the bullpen, Hernandez has tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings, and manager Dave Trembley said prior to Wednesday's game that Hernandez will be used as a seventh- and eighth-inning man going forward.
"He looked a lot more comfortable than I expected he would look coming out of the bullpen this early," Trembley said. "I thought his breaking pitch [on Tuesday] night was probably the best that we have seen, as far as throwing it for a strike.
"You have a power arm like that, you have to take that guy in short stints and move him more toward the end of the game. That's when the game is decided one-on-one."
Hernandez's fastball was consistently clocked in the mid-90s on Tuesday night, and he called pitching in the electric atmosphere at the new Yankee Stadium a "definite rush."
"You've got the fans yelling at you when you are warming up -- it's definitely fun for me," Hernandez said. "I just love being in the game when the game's on the line. It's what every pitcher loves to do."
From afar, Moeller wishes O's well
NEW YORK -- Yankees catcher Chad Moeller still has friends in the Orioles organization and said it has been hard to watch his former teammates languish at the bottom of the American League East. The O's entered Wednesday's game with a Major League-worst record of 15-37, having lost 10 of their past 12 games.
"It is hard, but I do pay attention to see it," said Moeller, who lost the O's backup catcher job to Craig Tatum in the final days of Spring Training.
"Some guys over there, I really like. And you want to see them do well, and you hope that losing doesn't become contagious for them, because it can really bring players down. They never really achieve what they could just because [losing] wears on you."
Moeller was the Orioles' backup catcher last year and was the favorite to assume the role again this season, but the O's preferred Tatum's arm and granted Moeller his release. The 35-year-old veteran signed a Minor League deal with the Yankees, and after starting the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Moeller was recalled on May 20, when Jorge Posada -- who missed time with a fracture in his right foot -- was placed on the 15-day disabled list. With Posada having been activated prior to Wednesday's game, Moeller knows he is playing on borrowed time.
"I know what the realities are at this point of my career -- whether I fit in or I don't, what situations could possibly be best," Moeller said. "You hope to take advantage of them when you get them, but I'm just grateful I stand a chance."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.