ARLINGTON, Texas — —
After five straight starts, struggling first baseman Garrett Atkins was on the bench for Thursday night's series finale against the Texas Rangers, and it appears he could stay there through the weekend.
"Luke Scott right now is swinging the bat well for us. Going in to play the Nationals, where there is no DH, I have to try and find a way to get a lineup where the best eight guys are in there for us," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I think that's why you see Luke playing first base tonight in anticipation of him doing that against the Nationals. That does affect Garrett Atkins tonight, and it probably will affect him somewhat when we go play this weekend."
Atkins, whom the Orioles signed this offseason to bolster production from the corner infield spots, is hitting .221 with no homers and six RBIs in 33 games. When the Orioles sent down Rhyne Hughes over the weekend, leaving them without another true first baseman on the roster, they said Atkins would get the opportunity to play regularly.
However, over five consecutive starts, Atkins went 1-for-17 with five strikeouts, and he's hitless in his past 15 at-bats.
Thursday night was just Scott's second start at first base this season, but he's expected to get more over the weekend, simply because the punchless Orioles can't afford to not have his bat in the lineup.
The Orioles will also call up infielder Scott Moore from Triple-A Norfolk in time for Friday night's series opener with Washington. Moore, who is batting .267 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 33 games for the Tides, also could take starts away from Atkins at first. Reliever Alberto Castillo was demoted to Triple-A after Thursday night's game to make room for Moore's arrival.
"Beyond this weekend, I couldn't tell you what's going to happen other than the fact that we'll have to wait and see what move we make to add the other position player," said Trembley, whose team is the only one in the majors without a homer from a first baseman. "I don't think anybody could disagree that we have to do something and try and get some run production out of that spot."
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said via a text message Thursday that he was feeling a "little better" a day after he was admitted to a Baltimore-area hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia.
Roberts, who has been sidelined since April 10 because of a herniated disk in his back, was still in the hospital as of late Thursday afternoon, but he was communicating with teammates and Trembley.
"What Brian said to me today is, 'It's just been one thing after another,' " Trembley said. "I think that says it all. When he thinks and we think we're getting close, something else comes up. It has been difficult. I'm sure it has been much more difficult for him. I saw the guy being so upbeat during the last homestand, really working, felt really good about himself and all of a sudden this illness came on. It's another setback for him. I just keep thinking, gosh darn, this has got to run its course."
Concerned about Uehara
Trembley acknowledged that he was concerned about reliever Koji Uehara, who quickly grew tired during his two-thirds of an inning Wednesday night. Uehara had problems last season dealing with hot and humid conditions as a starter.
The Orioles hoped that problem would be alleviated with Uehara moving into a bullpen role, but that was clearly not the case during his 30-pitch outing Wednesday.
"I think it was apparent to everybody last night that we have to still get him built up in baseball pitching shape, but I am concerned about it," Trembley said. "We don't play too many games in domed stadiums, and it's not even summertime yet. He's just got to get used to pitching in this type of weather and get acclimated to it the best he can. He worked very hard during the offseason to get in shape. I don't think that's a question. He's just not used to it."
Trembley said he was considering giving Uehara consecutive days off to give the pitcher a chance to recover.
Around the horn
Orioles reliever Michael Gonzalez (left shoulder strain) threw a scoreless inning in an extended spring training game Thursday, throwing 18 pitches and allowing a hit and a walk. Trembley said Gonzalez's fastball was clocked at 89 mph. Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz is writing a rehabilitation schedule for Gonzalez, but he's expected to remain at extended spring training for a while longer and pitch two or three more times. Lou Montanez was the designated hitter Thursday night, his first start since May 5, a span of 14 games.