HOUSTON -- Orioles pitcher Tommy Hunter threw his first bullpen session on Sunday since hitting the disabled list with a left groin strain, and the right-hander will fly to Texas on Monday night to throw another side for the O's coaching staff before they determine the next step.
"He may fly back with us [to Baltimore] on Thursday, or he may go pitch with a team on Thursday, so we'll see," manager Buck Showalter said of Hunter, who threw at Double-A Bowie's stadium on Sunday. "He felt great today, threw breaking balls, changeups, fastballs."
Hunter won't be ready the first day he's eligible, which is Thursday, and Showalter said he misspoke when making that statement on Saturday.
"The earliest he could throw a rehab game would be Thursday," Showalter said. "He'd probably do it again on Saturday, so the first time we might see him is on [June 9], a week from [Monday]."
Hunter has allowed 11 earned runs on 25 hits, five walks and a hit batsman over 16 1/3 innings this season. He has 11 saves in 14 opportunities and was removed from the closer role shortly before hitting the DL.
O's shuffle rotation to give arms extra rest
HOUSTON -- The Orioles are shuffling the rotation following Monday's off-day, with both Bud Norris and Chris Tillman getting an extra two days of rest.
Norris will pitch on Wednesday, following Ubaldo Jimenez on Tuesday, with Miguel Gonzalez rounding out the series at Texas on Thursday. Wei-Yin Chen, Sunday's starter, will pitch Friday's home opener vs. the Athletics, and Tillman will follow him.
"We'll give him a couple of work days and see if we can build on [Saturday]," manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman, who pitched into the seventh inning for just the second time since April 11. "He's still not where he's capable of being, but he's getting closer. "
Showalter also alluded to the O's preferring that Norris -- who has been the Orioles' best starter -- avoid facing Oakland. He is 0-2 with a 9.35 ERA in four career games against the A's.
"We have a thing we carry around. We don't base our decisions on it, but it's a tiebreaker -- matchups and different stuff, who might need the rest," Showalter said. "Who would benefit from it, who would not benefit from it. Some guys don't want to [get extra rest]. If you kind of look at history, you'll get a pretty good idea of why we did it this way. There's only one history we couldn't take advantage of. We try to satisfy the needs of the team and the pitchers."
Buck spells Markakis with day at DH
HOUSTON -- Nick Markakis is dealing with some neck stiffness, so the right fielder got a modified day off, serving as the O's designated hitter on Sunday.
"Ever since my herniated disc, it pops up from time to time. Just something I have to deal with," said Markakis, who almost didn't play in Saturday's game.
"I'm still a little stiff, but it's better than [Saturday], so it's moving in the right direction."
Markakis, who never wants to come out of the lineup, has been getting treatment on the area and Showalter said Nelson Cruz -- who had been bothered by calf tightness -- is a full-go in the field, so the manager wanted to take advantage of that.
"Nick's neck is better," Showalter said Sunday. "I hope it is the same as yesterday. He's something. I can't tell you how many guys wouldn't have played yesterday --- not wouldn't have, but wouldn't have come in here and tried to work all morning, trying to get it to loosen up. A lot of guys would have just woken up and said, 'I'm out.' That's what you can't evaluate with analytics. Where's that show up?"
Markakis, who entered Sunday batting .300, said the blow at DH and Monday's off-day should help him be ready to go for Tuesday's series opener in Arlington.
"I"m fine with it," he said. "Gives me an extra day. Throwing bothers it more than hitting, so it's good to get a DH day every now and then."
• Matt Wieters threw Sunday and felt better than he did on Friday, according to Showalter. Wieters threw again from 75 feet, between 20-30 throws, and he will take Monday off and throw on Tuesday. There's no timetable for his return, although the club will have to decide around July 1 if Wieters is going to continue down this road or opt for season-ending surgery.
• No news yet on whether Johan Santana is staying with the O's organization, although it should be coming soon, as the team has until midnight Monday. Santana has an opt-out in his contract, although the O's are optimistic about their chances of keeping him. He could be an option for the big league rotation by June 18 if he stays.
• Minor League infield coordinator Dave Anderson will meet the Orioles in Arlington and offer his help during the series. Anderson won't formally join the coaching staff, but he should be able to provide a wealth of information, as he used to be a coach with the Rangers' organization.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.