Getting to first base

It's back to Camden Yards tonight, where rookie Zach Britton gets to pitch again with an extra day of rest.

It happened in his last start and he shut out the Mariners over nine innings.

I'm just saying...

I wonder how he's done in the past with the tarp on the field? The forecast isn't promising.

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The Yankees are sending Bartolo Colon to the mound if the weather allows it. He tossed three scoreless innings against the Orioles on April 14 and is 10-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 21 career games against them.

Cesar Izturis is 5-for-14 with two doubles and five RBIs lifetime against Colon. Derrek Lee is 5-for-13.

It won't do the Orioles any good, since both players will be on the disabled list.

Who gets most of the starts at first base in Lee's absence?

Does Luke Scott make the move from left field, which creates more playing time for Felix Pie? Does Jake Fox enter the lineup, as he did last night before the postponement? Should the Orioles take advantage of the opportunity to evaluate Brandon Snyder?

No matter what manager Buck Showalter does, there will be a noticeable decline in defense on that corner. It's nothing personal with Scott, Fox and Snyder. We'll just grow to appreciate Lee's glove a little bit more. He's saved a bunch of errors over there.

Troy Patton gives the Orioles a 13th pitcher. It's a nice reward after being largely ignored in spring training. And after being summoned from the minors on more than one occasion and not pitching or being activated.

Patton had a 2.60 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. Mark Worrell might be a little disappointed right now, since he had a 1.65 ERA and seven saves in 16 1/3 innings, but he's not on the 40-man roster and he's mostly a one-inning reliever. Patton threw four scoreless innings on Thursday.

I passed along Alfredo Simon's stats last night from his third rehab start with Double-A Bowie. It's believed that the Orioles must remove him from the restricted list by Sunday, or real close to it. He can't be optioned to the minors without clearing waivers.

Simon is stretched out enough to be a starter or reliever. It would appear that he's needed more in the bullpen, especially with Brian Matusz possibly one more minor league start away from being activated from the disabled list. No more than two.

Simon would give the Orioles another long man, though it hasn't been a pressing need with the starters avoiding early exits from games. He also could assist as a bridge to closer Kevin Gregg, since so many relievers are struggling right now. And yes, he's been a closer in the majors, so the anti-Gregg segment of the fan base would have one more pitcher to tout as the preferred choice in the ninth inning.

There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding Simon beyond the Orioles' plans to activate him and how they'll use him. He's reportedly facing a trial in the Dominican. No date has been set, but one of his attorneys told an Associate Press reporter that "it usually takes about two months."

Down on the farm, Josh Rupe pitched in his third game for Norfolk last night since clearing waivers and being outrighted. He tossed 2 2/3 perfect innings against Syracuse, striking out four and lowering his ERA to 6.75.

Rupe gave up three runs and three hits - including two homers - and walked a batter in one inning Friday night in his Tides debut against Lehigh Valley.

Single-A Frederick's Rick Zagone has thrown six scoreless innings in each of his last two starts.

Single-A Delmarva's Tyler Kelly went 5-for-5 with his first home run and two RBIs, raising his average to .373. Mike Flacco went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and two runs scored. He's batting .270. And he's never had a pass intercepted by Troy Polamalu.

The Shorebirds had 17 hits in a 6-5 win over Lakewood.

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