NEW YORK - Robert Andino is back with the Orioles. Now he has to get back in the lineup.
Andino will begin tonight's game on the bench, but at least he's off the disabled list after a brief injury-rehab assignment at Triple-A Norfolk.
"Played two games down there pain-free," he said. "Did a little bit of sliding and everything. Ground balls. No pain. See how it goes.
"Hardest thing was probably diving glove side right now. The other thing was probably sliding head-first."
Andino collected three hits in nine at-bats with the Tides.
"Timing is going to come," he said. "I've been out for two weeks, so timing is going to be off, but that comes.
"I swung really hard and let my bat go (with his right hand) and there's no pain. I got scared for a minute, but there's no pain."
Andino was activated today at the same time that Jim Thome was placed on the DL with a herniated disk in his neck. Thome will fly to California and receive an epidural from his physician.
"We talked and after two or three days, if it wasn't getting better, there might be something in there that caused him to not get better," said manager Buck Showalter. "With some of the treatment, we've seen a lot of these things manage itself in a day or two, so I wasn't surprised today. It's what we were prepared for with Robert."
The Orioles are hoping his condition isn't as severe as Nolan Reimold's, which required surgery and most likely ended his season.
"I hope not, but you treat these things with the seriousness that they are, hoping that it's something (minor)," Showalter said. "If you look at some of the experience he's had, it's been with the lower back, but you never really know. Hopefully, he can get that injection in the next couple days and make it back on the 12th."
Omar Quintanilla is starting again at second base tonight, but he could platoon with Andino.
"We'll use both their skills and where they are and what the matchups are," Showalter said. "Feel really good to have two versatile players like Robert and Q, so we'll see the way it takes itself and take advantage of a given part of the season. If someone is swinging the bat well and doing certain things, we'll ride it. Robert will get some starts. He'll start a couple games in Tampa."
Ryan Flaherty remains on the bench, essentially a victim of his own versatility and Quintanilla's early contributions.
"Omar is playing really well and I think he's a lot more experienced in the infield," Showalter said. "Ryan, it's kind of bad for him that he's probably our most versatile player as far as the infield and outfield. He can really give us some options off the bench. So we'll continue to use Ryan and such, but you know, we're going to ride what Q is doing for us. And we hope Ryan is there if we need him.
"A lot of it has to do, too, that we were down to one guy on the bench and you want to keep somebody versatile on the bench, so that kind of hurts Ryan. You want to keep one guy you can move around and do some things with."
Showalter joked with reporters when it was pointed out that the Orioles didn't make any moves today.
"What do you mean we didn't make a move? We activated Andino today," he said. "We got some good news. (Jason) Hammel is very close to resuming baseball activities. Brian Roberts is going to be OK next spring. (Tsuyoshi) Wada is going to help us at some point next year. Nolan Reimold should manage well and be back next spring. (Stu) Pomeranz is starting to make progress. He threw today. Hope to get some of these guys off the 60 and the 15. We have good options in Norfolk that are starting to present themselves. That's where I'm dwelling.
"I know what you're asking, but some of the best things you don't do are the things that aren't productive for your short-term and long-term success. Like I told you all along, I don't think players need to hear me strumming my fingers trying to figure out who's coming. I have a lot of confidence in the people who are evaluating that. We talk. Dan (Duquette) and I talked today.
Asked if the young pitchers should take today's inactivity as a sign that the Orioles have faith in them, Showalter replied, "They should take it that way. What other way is there to look at it? Somebody was asking me, talking about the wild card last night and that game and what impact, I said, 'We're trying to catch the Yankees.' We're trying to catch them. What other way is there to think about it? You spend so many times coveting somebody else's players to decide that the solution may be in the own backyard. The biggest thing clubs can do is know their own, know thyself, so not a whole lot changes from that perspective."