When Pie returns, Bell may stay put
Orioles prospect collected first Major League hit Thursday
BOSTON -- Orioles top position prospect Josh Bell isn't automatically going to be the odd man out when Felix Pie is activated early next week.
"I don't know actually what the situation is going to be," interim manager Juan Samuel said before Friday's series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "I think we're going to deal with that as we approach that day. I'm not sure."
That Samuel was noncommittal leaves the door open for the O's to perhaps option a reliever, such as Frank Mata (0-0, 8.03 ERA), who allowed four earned runs while recording just one out Thursday night. Matt Albers (3-3, 5.35 ERA) is also a candidate, but he is out of options -- meaning he would have to clear waivers -- and given that Albers tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings against Oakland, Baltimore probably wouldn't risk losing him.
Samuel said he "couldn't guarantee anything" concerning the pending roster move, but made it clear when Bell was recalled Thursday that he wouldn't just sit the bench. Bell went 1-for-4 in his Major League debut --in addition to committing an error at third base -- and served as the O's designated hitter Friday.
"You don't want to come here and just leave," said Bell, whose goal is to turn a short-term promotion into a more permanent role. "I've just got to do what I can to help them win and hopefully I'll change somebody's mind."
The 23-year-old Bell said being in the Major Leagues hasn't really sunk in, but he was glad to get his first hit in the books with Thursday's seventh-inning single.
"[Adam] Jones was telling me it took him 11 at-bats or something [to get his first hit], so that was nice getting that one out of the way," Bell said. "I don't have to worry about it anymore."
Samuel urges Jones to play deeper in center
BOSTON -- Center fielder Adam Jones has been getting in daily extra outfield work with Orioles first-base coach John "T-Bone" Shelby, and interim manager Juan Samuel said Friday the intent is to get Jones comfortable playing deeper.
"Last year he took back a lot of home runs," Samuel said of Jones, who made just five errors in 118 games last season en route to winning a Rawlings Gold Glove.
"I told him, 'If you play a little bit deeper and the ball falls in front of him, we still got a double play set up.' Those balls in the gap, they end up being doubles and triples, so hopefully we start seeing some of that and [he will] get better."
Jones posted a .986 fielding percentage last season with nine outfield assists, but he has struggled to maintain his defensive prowess. In his first 77 games, Jones already has four errors, and he entered Friday with a .982 fielding percentage.
Samuel said he spoke with Jones on Friday afternoon about several aspects of his defense, including being more aggressive in charging the ball and trying to stop opposing players from taking the extra base.
"We're trying to have him get behind fly balls and not assume that guys aren't going to tag up," Samuel said. "We also made him aware that, 'Hey, we can go into a slump at home plate, but we cannot afford to go in a slump on defense.'"
Orioles reliever Jim Johnson (low grade tear in his right elbow) is expected to get back on a mound Saturday. Johnson was shut down for a few days with discomfort in the area. ... Second baseman Brian Roberts is still participating in light baseball activities at the team's Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla.. ... Outfielder Felix Pie was dealing with tightness in his legs during Thursday's game at Double-A Bowie, but it wasn't anything serious. Pie started Friday's rehab game in Bowie and went 0-for-3 with a walk. ... Reliever Michael Gonzalez (left shoulder strain) allowed a solo homer in one inning in his first rehab outing for Bowie on Friday night. Gonzalez faced four batters and is expected to throw for the Baysox again Sunday.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.