So why Mahoney?

You've heard of good roster moves.

OK, I won't go there again.

The Orioles had a decision to make yesterday after optioning pitcher Chris Tillman to Double-A Bowie: Bring up a position player or a reliever.

The choices weren't exactly plentiful, if you take another look at the 40-man roster.

Pitchers:
Jake Arrieta
Luis Ayala
Jason Berken
Zach Britton
Dylan Bundy
Wei-Yin Chen
Oliver Drake
Dana Eveland
Miguel Gonzalez
Kevin Gregg
Jason Hammel
Tommy Hunter
Jim Johnson
Steve Johnson
Matt Lindstrom
Brian Matusz
Darren O'Day
Troy Patton
Pedro Strop
Chris Tillman

Catchers:
Luis Exposito
Ronny Paulino
Matt Wieters

Infielders:
Ryan Adams
Robert Andino
Wilson Betemit
Chris Davis
Ryan Flaherty
J.J. Hardy
Nick Johnson
Joe Mahoney
Mark Reynolds
Brian Roberts
Steve Tolleson

Outfieders:
Xavier Avery
Endy Chavez
Adam Jones
Nick Markakis
Steve Pearce

Designated hitter:
Jim Thome

Assuming that the Orioles wanted to avoid adding a non-roster player and having to make a corresponding move, they were basically left with first baseman Joe Mahoney and pitchers Jason Berken and Zach Britton.

The Orioles allowed Berken to make his start for Triple-A Norfolk yesterday and he threw 95 pitches in 5 1/3 innings. He was eliminated on the spot.

They don't need another starter with the All-Star break approaching on Monday - otherwise, they would have kept Tillman - so recalling Britton made no sense unless they were going to start him on Friday or stash him in the bullpen as an extra long man, which isn't needed at this point with Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Tillman going deep into the last three games.

Dana Eveland or Miguel Gonzalez is expected to start on Friday. The Orioles want Britton to take at least one more turn in Norfolk as his command gradually improves.

Oliver Drake in on the disabled list. Steve Johnson can only replace someone going on the disabled list, since he hasn't been down for 10 days.

There's no way the Orioles would consider Dylan Bundy. Oh, and the kid who supposedly is being brought along too slowly gave up three runs and six hits, and walked three batters, in four innings yesterday against Potomac.

Check out the available position players on the 40-man. Second baseman Ryan Adams is on the disabled list and hasn't played since May 12. Catcher Luis Exposito is beginning an injury-rehab assignment after undergoing surgery to remove a piece of a broken hamate bone in his wrist. Endy Chavez remains on the disabled list and it's considered progress that he's jogging. Steve Tolleson hasn't been down for 10 days.

Nick Markakis could begin an injury-rehab assignment at Bowie after taking batting practice for two days in Aberdeen. He's not ready to return to the Orioles' lineup. He needs some at-bats before stepping to the plate against major league pitching.

That leaves Mahoney, who's hitting .306 in his last 10 games and perhaps can grab a start at first base before going back to Norfolk. It's expected to be a temporary promotion - longer than Johnson's, but not by much.

Going back to Britton, he's scheduled to start Saturday for the Tides. Tommy Hunter goes tonight, Brian Matusz on Friday and Tim Bascom on Sunday. Johnson isn't currently listed in Norfolk's rotation, but let's see if that changes after he was optioned following Tuesday night's game in Seattle.

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