Cleaning out my notebook

NEW YORK - Early this morning, the Orioles announced that Chris Tillman, Bud Norris and Ubaldo Jimenez would start the three games against the Blue Jays this weekend at Camden Yards. Tillman was pushed ahead of Norris.

The Orioles are off today. No games. Reduced odds that a player will be hurt. Celebrate good times.

J.J. Hardy will work out today at Camden Yards to test his lower back. David Lough will rest up after passing his concussion test yesterday in Baltimore. Jemile Weeks will wonder what the heck happened.

Actually, Weeks understands the business. The Orioles summoned him to New York on Tuesday but didn't officially recall him. He reported to the visiting clubhouse yesterday, conducted an interview at Lough's old locker, worked out and was at LaGuardia airport around 7 p.m.

Revisiting the trade with Oakland, you have to wonder who had a worse day, Weeks or Jim Johnson?

I'm going with Johnson, who blew another save in Minnesota after handed a 4-2 lead in the ninth. He didn't even finish the inning and woke up this morning with an 18.90 ERA.

At least Weeks got a free trip to New York.

Weeks was informed around 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday that he'd be joining the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. He wasn't in Triple-A Norfolk's lineup, raising suspicions that he might be packing his bags.

"I knew before the game that I wasn't going to be playing," he said. "The manager (Ron Johnson) came and told me that. He said, 'Don't look into it. Don't call nobody or anything. You may or may not have an idea of what's going on, but you're just not going to be in the game tonight.' I was on the field taking ground balls and he had a call. I saw him on the phone. 'Weeks, you've got to go. 7 o'clock flight.' So, in and out."

Weeks is primarily a second baseman, but he's becoming more comfortable in the outfield, which increases his value to the Orioles.

"I played 20 or so games last year when I was with Oakland, and coming over here I knew that I was possibly going to have an opportunity to play out there from Buck Showalter, and they got me out there for a game (in Norfolk) and I was comfortable," Weeks said.

Weeks, who's 6-for-12 with two triples for the Tides, was among the final cuts in spring training.

"I wasn't surprised," he said. "I always felt that at some point in the season I'd be able to help this team in some way or form. I'm willing to help out the team any way, but I still feel like I can be a factor on this team."

Just not yet.

You probably don't care, but Weeks' middle name is Nykiwa.

I had a question posed to me yesterday that I'll spin back to you. If you could return Weeks to Oakland right now in exchange for Johnson, taking on half of the reliever's $10 million contract, would you do it?

While you're thinking about it, here's a leftover quote from Adam Jones. And it has nothing to do with fans on the field and how to leave permanent marks on their bodies.

"Like I said, this team continues to grind," he said. "Look at the bottom of our lineup, what they did again. Flash (Ryan Flaherty) with a double in the ninth inning, (Jonathan) Schoop getting him over, (Nick) Markakis getting him in. Then you got Delmon (Young) still swinging a good bat. So it's collective, collective. This lineup's not going to make it easy, grinding it out."

Schoop is playing a big role in the resurgence of the bottom of the order. If there's a silver lining in Manny Machado's stay on the disabled list, it's the experience Schoop is gaining at the major league level.

"It feels really nice," Schoop said. "If that bottom of the order is producing, the middle of the order is going to produce, too. Flash hit that double to get us rolling. I missed a ball and then I got a base hit. It gets us going. It feels good when the bottom of the order is producing."

The Orioles seven through nine hitters went 12-for-27 over the last two games, with five RBIs and eight runs scored.

Miguel Gonzalez allowed three runs in six innings last night to produce the Orioles' second quality start.

"First, I was a little up, a couple of my pitches I couldn't finish," Gonzalez said, "but then toward the end (Matt Wieters) told me, 'Just be yourself and make your pitches and try not to do too much,' and the last two innings were great."

The last two games felt great for the Orioles. A happy flight home. A restful day off. Then, back to the grind.

And as Jones reminds us, they're always going to grind.

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