Roberts to begin rehab assignment Wednesday

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who hasn’t played in a game since May 16, 2011, will begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow night at Double-A Bowie.

Manager Buck Showalter made the announcement on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Report on MASN, and the Orioles confirmed it in a tweet.

Showalter said he expects Roberts to take the full 20 days, the maximum that a position player can spend on a rehab assignment. Pitchers get 30 days.

Roberts has amped up his workout routine, taking early and regular batting practice, diving for balls at second base, simulating turning the double play and stealing second. He told reporters yesterday that he could begin a rehab assignment in the next few weeks.

Tomorrow falls within the next few weeks.

Bowie is playing Richmond in a four-game series at Prince George’s Stadium.

Roberts wants to stay close to Camden Yards, so his preference is to play his games at Bowie and Single-A Frederick.

Brian-Roberts_White-Closeup-Tall.gifA few more notes:

* Left-handed hitters are 2-for-21 against Brian Matusz since Curtis Granderson’s home run on May 1. Lefties are 5-for-35 vs. Matusz this season.

* The Orioles have one extra-base hit - Chris Davis’ home run in the fourth inning Monday - in the last 21 innings.

* Nick Johnson was 0-for-26 in April, but he’s 11-for-34 (.324) with four doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and six walks in May.

* Xavier Avery has reached base in eight consecutive games since going 0-for-4 in his major league debut. He’s 10-for-32 (.313) with three doubles, a triple, seven runs scored and a .405 on-base percentage.

* Adam Jones will try to extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games tonight.

* Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said he’s still looking for ways to upgrade the pitching depth. In the meantime, he’ll pay close attention to Zach Britton’s first start with a minor league affiliate, which is expected to take place Saturday at Bowie, though he wouldn’t confirm it.

“He’s a qualified major leaguer,” Duquette said. “We’ll just see how it goes from start to start. He’s almost had a full spring training. A couple more starts and he should be there.”

Britton could come off the DL while the Orioles are on their next road trip, which begins May 28 in Toronto and includes stops in Tampa and Boston before they’re back home on June 8.

Duquette wouldn’t confirm whether Dylan Bundy’s next start would be Sunday at Single-A Delmarva. The organization is discussing whether to move him up to Frederick.

“That’s something that we’re looking at,” he said. “We’re looking at what the best thing is for him to do in his program. I don’t know where he’s scheduled to pitch. That’s something we’re taking a look at.”

* Back in spring training, Showalter talked about the challenge of finding a cleanup hitter for his lineup. He didn’t have the same concerns about the leadoff spot, though reporters asked him about it on a daily basis.

Well, Jones has fit nicely in the fourth spot, entering tonight’s game with eight doubles, a triple, a .307 average, 14 homers, 29 RBIs, 32 runs scored and a .953 OPS.

“I appreciate Adam for being good enough where I don’t get asked about it,” Showalter said. “I don’t think they look at it like I’m sure the fans and everybody else looks at it. It’s not as big a deal. Some guys get their ego involved in it, where they’re hitting in the order. ‘I’m hitting eighth? I’m a seven hole hitter.’ Come on.

“Adam and I, we didn’t have many discussions about it. He’s hit just about everywhere in the order. He’s handled it well, if there’s something to handle. You know he’s going to follow the guy who’s hitting third. That’s about it. He may lead off the inning, he may hit second in the inning. But he has the versatility to do some different things in that role that a lot of four-hole hitters don’t.

“If there’s some prototype four-hole hitter, I haven’t seen the latest model.”

EXCLUSIVE: Buck Showalter announces Brian Roberts will begin rehab in Double-A Bowie on Wednesday

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