What I know

This will be a short blog entry, as you can imagine.

The Orioles optioned Steve Johnson yesterday because they don't have a game on Monday and won't need a fifth starter until Saturday. They don't want him sitting in the bullpen or throwing 30-40 pitches in a relief outing and then being expected to throw 90-100 in a start. A Sept. 1 call-up is assured, and he could be here a lot sooner.

J.J. Hardy isn't moving off shortstop. Suggesting that he shift to third or second is wasted energy. The Orioles value his glove work every single night. I ran the idea past manager Buck Showalter yesterday, though I already knew the answer, and he shot down the idea like it was a clay disk and I had yelled, "Pull!"

Manny Machado's contract was selected in part because there wasn't a better option at Triple-A Norfolk. Steve Tolleson is on the disabled list. The Orioles needed better defense at third base, and they had to dip further down to Double-A Bowie. Showalter wanted Machado. Executive vice president Dan Duquette didn't have to twist his arm. (And it's a good thing nobody yelled, "Pull!")

J.J._Hardy-sidebar_throwing_white.jpgImproving the defense has really become a priority for the Orioles. Machado at third base, Omar Quintanilla at second base, Lew Ford and Nate McLouth platooning in left field.

Showalter has wanted a second left-handed reliever for a few months, but finding one - and finding room for him - has been the challenge. Troy Patton has done a superb job, but Showalter would like a match-up lefty, as well. The Orioles would like to bring up Zach Phillips, but will they have to wait until rosters expand? The bullpen doesn't offer much flexibility in the way of options. Darren O'Day has one and the Orioles almost used it earlier this summer, but he's not going anywhere now. He's made 10 straight scoreless appearances.

More from Norfolk: Second baseman Ryan Adams needs to tighten up his defense and step up his game or he's going to lose that 40-man roster spot. Being on the disabled list for an extended period probably saved him. He couldn't be designated for assignment. Now he's playing again, and his work in the field has left a lot to be desired. Also, he's batting only .212 with a .653 OPS, though he's 5-for-9 with two doubles in his last three games. There was a time when the Orioles' player development department rated Adams and Blake Davis ahead of Robert Andino.

Remember when I wrote about the divided interest in pitcher Derek Lowe at Camden Yards, and how an executive told me the veteran right-hander wasn't a fit? Well, there's also a divided opinion on first baseman Lyle Overbay. And as one member of the organization asked, "How would we make room for him?" Yes, I know, they could release Mark Reynolds.

If the Royals made Eric Hosmer or Billy Butler available over the winter, the Orioles would collectively do somersaults all the way to Kansas City to talk trade. But why would the Royals make Hosmer or Butler available?

Luis Ayala has registered a 1.93 ERA over his last 11 games and 14 innings. He's still challenged when entering a game with runners on base, but he's been reliable when they're clean.

The Orioles made 121 roster moves in their first 111 games. Yes, that's a ridiculously high amount.

Miguel Gonzalez, who takes the mound tonight, is 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in two home starts lasting only 8 1/3 innings. He's allowed a leadoff home run in both games - to Detroit's Austin Jackson and Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings.

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