Atkins takes Hughes' start in stride
O's first baseman benched Saturday in lieu of prospect
BOSTON -- Orioles first baseman Garrett Atkins saw Rhyne Hughes' name in Saturday's lineup -- in lieu of his own -- and didn't take it personally.
"It's one of those things. I'm not going to read into it until something happens," Atkins said. "I know that if I can do the things I'm capable of, all that stuff will work itself out. So I'm not too concerned with that stuff. I'm just here to win ballgames, and anything we do to help that, I'm all for it."
Atkins hit safely in his first five games in an Orioles uniform, but he has been struggling as of late, dropping his season average to .224 with an 0-for-4 performance Friday. In that 4-3 series-opening loss to the Red Sox, Atkins twice left the bases loaded and grounded into an inning-ending double play in his first at-bat.
He was equally unproductive on the defensive side, letting Dustin Pedroia's liner pop out of his glove in the eight inning and turning a would-be double-play ball into just one out. That play would prove critical when the O's later let the Red Sox score the game's decisive run with two outs.
Hughes was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday -- and made his Major League debut -- in an effort to help bolster a beleaguered Orioles offense. Atkins' struggles are hardly an anomaly in an O's lineup that is averaging just 2.89 runs per game and entered Saturday a Major League-worst 6-for-63 (.095) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
"I just view [Hughes playing] as a guy swinging the bat well; not too many guys [are] swinging the bat well," Atkins said. "Hopefully he can spark the offense and get things going a little bit."
Orioles manager Dave Trembley wasn't ready to discuss a possible platoon between Atkins and Hughes, although that largely depends on Hughes' production.
"I haven't thought about that," Trembley said. "Hughes is going to play first base [Saturday], and [we'll] see where it goes from there. The way we have been swinging the bats and the way we have been going, we've got to try something."
In his first big league at-bat, Hughes recorded his first hit and RBI with a single down the first-base line in the second inning.
Turner optioned to Triple-A
BOSTON -- Second baseman Justin Turner was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk prior to Saturday's game to make room for Rhnye Hughes, who made his Major League debut at first base.
"It'll be nice to go down and play every day, but I'd rather be up here and try to help them out," Turner said. "But [I'll] go down there and get some at-bats every day and hopefully get some things going and get comfortable offensively."
The 25-year-old Turner, recalled in the wake of Brian Roberts' injury, appeared in five games for Baltimore and was hitless in nine at-bats.
Manager Dave Trembley said the Orioles didn't really consider sending down a reliever, and they wanted to swap position player for position player.
"[Turner needs to] play on a regular basis and get at-bats," Trembley said. "He needs to do that. He understands that."
It helps that Trembley told Turner he's only a phone call away, and if the team needs another middle infielder, he will likely get the nod.
"That was pretty reassuring," Turner said. "So [I'll] just go down there and work every day and hopefully be back up here."
Uehara to begin rehab stint Tuesday
BOSTON -- Koji Uehara threw an inning in another extended spring training game on Saturday with no reported problems, and the Orioles pitcher is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Tuesday. Uehara will also throw on Thursday, with no further plans beyond that.
Uehara was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain on March 26, but hasn't appeared in a game for the O's since exiting in the fifth inning of a Grapefruit League contest on March 18. His return would help bolster an Orioles bullpen that is also currently without closer Michael Gonzalez.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.