What happens to Andino?

I’m ready to create another “Because You Asked” just for this one question.

If I needed to pad it, I’m sure that I could insert a Dylan Bundy question, too, but let’s stick to Robert Andino this morning.

It’s natural to wonder how Brian Roberts’ return to the 25-man roster, assuming it happens, will impact Andino. Roberts could go on an injury-rehab assignment in a few weeks. This is the closest we’ve gotten to having any sort of timetable on him.

I’m more curious about how Roberts’ return could impact Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty, but so much depends on the status of other injured players.

As for Andino, there are a couple of scenarios. He could still get lots of action at second base with Roberts being eased back into major league competition as the designated hitter. He could make some starts at third base, where he looked good with the glove last year. He could just keep moving around the infield, also providing needed rest for shortstop J. J. Hardy, and maybe find some starts in left field.

In other words, he could be the super utility guy that manager Buck Showalter envisioned, with plenty of innings and at-bats available to him.

The roster eventually will have to open up for other players on the disabled list, including third baseman Mark Reynolds and outfielders Nolan Reimold and Endy Chavez.

Andino Swings White tall.jpgThere’s some concern among fans about Xavier Avery’s status, but Reimold isn’t coming back anytime soon with a second epidural scheduled for him, and Chavez hasn’t even gone on a rehab assignment. Showalter keeps referring to how Chavez is “a tick behind” Reynolds.

Once Chavez finally returns, he can go back to being the fourth outfielder. Once Reimold returns, Avery’s situation becomes an issue.

Bill Hall isn’t playing much, and he could be gone once Chavez or Reynolds come off the disabled list. Steve Tolleson is 4-for-13 with two doubles and an RBI in four games, and I like his glove at third base, but he also could be forced out. They figured to be temporary.

I should point out that Flaherty is batting .152 (7-for-46), so it’s not like he’s tearing the cover off the ball, but he can’t be sent down as a Rule 5 pick - the Cubs would take him back in an instant - and Showalter believes he could eventually mature into an everyday player rather than a utility guy. The Orioles want to hold onto him.

Here’s where it could get complicated. If the Orioles eventually can go back to their original set-up with Reimold as the regular left fielder and Chavez the fourth outfielder, that’s one bench spot occupied. The backup catcher is the second bench spot. If we put Reynolds at third base and Chris Davis at first, the third bench spot goes to Wilson Betemit or Nick Johnson, depending on which one is the designated hitter. Flaherty is the other reserve.

If Roberts is back in the lineup and Andino has to grab some pine, who’s the odd-man out? Could it be Johnson?

Showalter tries not to look too far ahead and obsess over all the combinations.

“There’s some reality there, but I don’t as much as you may think,” he said. “The reality is, my job focus is on 25 people we’ve got here and the competition we’re facing on that given night and trying to be ready for that. Over the years, I’ve noticed these things tend to work themselves out, and if they don’t, it’s a good problem to have. It’s a problem we haven’t had here in the past.

“The big thing is we’re just hoping our guys are on the way, which they are, to getting healthy. And we’re getting a lot closer on a lot fronts. And I welcome those tough decisions.”

Here’s a leftover quote from Showalter on the pounding that his players take on a nightly basis:

“I think we lead the league in strawberries. We’ve got some ugly abrasions. I’d hate to be in charge of washing the sheets. Chris Davis has got a beauty. Tolley has one, Flaherty. Flaherty got one the day before yesterday on that hot shot that he caught in the game.”

Showalter was asked again whether he might adjust the rotation because of Thursday’s off-day.

“We’ll wait and see,” he said. “Ham (Jason Hammel) came through it pretty good. You want to see how (Wei-Yin) Chen is in the next couple of days, but we have some options with the off day. Initially, I’d like to give everybody a day if I can. The off-day is more than just for position players. I want to take every opportunity, and we’ve done it with Hammel already, to give that extra time there. We will, but I won’t get pigeonholed into how we’re going to do it.

“We’ll see how the next couple of days go. We’ve got some things that we can consider after the off day, with the starting rotation, too.”

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