SARASOTA, Fla. — — After the Orioles' workout had ended Saturday and many of his teammates had headed to the clubhouse, Brian Roberts put on his batting gloves and headed to a back field to take a few more swings.
It was an encouraging sight to the Orioles after the second baseman had missed their previous three workouts with a stiff neck, renewing concerns about his health.
"I wasn't worried about it being anything major, but any time you're hurt as a baseball player, you got to think about it. I wasn't overly concerned," Roberts said. "I felt fine. I was just trying to get some extra swings to get back into it."
Roberts, who had X-rays taken on his neck Wednesday and was dealing with muscle spasms, had downplayed the discomfort all along, saying it was unrelated to the herniated disk in his back that limited him to 59 games last year.
"It's just continually gotten better," Roberts said. "We're just trying to get to the point where it was good enough where we weren't going to go out there and think about it."
Roberts will continue to get treatment on his neck, but he's hopeful that he's "knocked out [the discomfort] for the most part."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that Roberts will be re-evaulated to see how he feels Sunday, but he liked what he saw of the leadoff hitter.
"So far, so good," Showalter said. "He went through everything. Robby had a good look in his face."
Reimold puts on aerial show
Showalter doesn't know too much about Nolan Reimold, as the outfielder played in just 10 games under the manager last season. However, he has talked to plenty of team officials about the 27-year-old and they've told him that Reimold "has a whole different body language and look on his face compared to last year."
He also appears to have a little more pop in his swing.
Reimold put on quite a show in batting practice Saturday, hitting so many balls over the fence that Showalter said, "We need to take out a loan to pay for all the balls."
Reimold, who hit .207 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 39 games for the Orioles last season and spent nearly 3 ½ months at Triple-A Norfolk, is competing with Felix Pie for the fourth outfield role with Luke Scott expected to start in left.
Lee waits another day
A day after taking batting practice for the first time since getting his right thumb surgically repaired in November, Derrek Lee felt some soreness, but it was nothing that caused any concern.
"Probably as expected, since it was the first time I hit on the field," Lee said. "I was hoping I would wake up feeling 100 percent, but I kind of knew I'd wake up sore."
Lee opted not to take batting practice Saturday, saying he was being "overly cautious." Showalter said that the big first baseman may take batting practice every other day until he eliminated some of the soreness in his thumb.
Fun and games
Pitching coach Mark Connor had his pitchers play a little game during Saturday's workout that both tested their fielding ability, along with their handling of the bat. Brian Matusz got the winning hit for his team, leading to a raucous celebration at home plate, similar to what you would see after a game-ending home run.
It was an appropriate continuation after several of the players engaged in some spirited ping-pong matches before the workout. Nick Markakis bought the table and had it set up after getting the approval of Showalter. New shortstop J.J. Hardy was the undisputed champ for the day, beating Markakis, Josh Bell, Jeremy Guthrie, Caleb Joseph, Mark Reynolds and Jake Arrieta, among others.
Around the horn
Non-roster invitee Mitch Atkins, who has been sidelined for much of the spring, will have a magnetic resonance imaging taken on his left oblique. Showalter said that the pitcher has made some progress, but "we just want to double check what we're dealing with, make sure we got it right." … Though the official opening of rebuilt Ed Smith Stadium won't be until Tuesday, the Orioles will play an intrasquad game there Sunday. The scheduled eight-inning game is not open to the public … With Justin Duchscherer's Wednesday start in serious jeopardy because of hip discomfort, top prospect Zach Britton could be in line for the starting assignment. Britton was scheduled to follow Duchscherer in that game against the Philadelphia Phillies.