DETROIT -- With Tuesday's decision to place Kevin Millwood on the disabled list, the competition for Saturday's start in Texas figures to be between long reliever Mark Hendrickson or Triple-A Norfolk's Chris Tillman.
Pitching coach Rick Kranitz confirmed that the decision will ultimately come down to those two guys, with the team's other long man, Jason Berken, pitching well enough out of the 'pen that the Orioles don't want to move him.
Interim manager Juan Samuel said Saturday's starter is still undecided, but added that the team would "probably call somebody up." That somebody would be Tillman, who started in Norfolk on Monday -- tossing a complete-game one-hit shutout -- and would be right on schedule for Saturday.
Although Tillman has made just three starts in Triple-A since being optioned, Kranitz said that if the team recalls the young right-hander, it wouldn't be perceived as rushing him.
"There's a lot of guys who go up and down from Double-A and Triple-A and get up here and might stub their toe. I expect [Tillman] to come up and do exactly what he's been doing in Triple-A," Kranitz said. "There's going to be a time when it translates over. To me, there's no better time to bring a guy up [than] when they are pitching well."
In three starts since his demotion, Tillman is 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA and has allowed just 10 hits and five walks while striking out 13 in 21 2/3 innings.
Pie returns to lineup
DETROIT -- As expected, Felix Pie was back in the Orioles' starting lineup and playing left field on Tuesday.
"It's been a long time [and] I'm going to help out my team," Pie said. "I'm excited to be here."
The energetic outfielder had been on the 60-day disabled list (upper back strain) since April 16, and the Orioles took great care in making sure Pie's extensive rehab assignment had him ready to be inserted back into the everyday lineup. Still, interim manager Juan Samuel said working Pie back in would be a challenge, given that he's essentially missed the entire first half of the season.
"It's going to be tough for Felix, because when he is out there, he is going to go 100 miles an hour," said Samuel, who planned on batting Pie lower in the order for the first few days before moving him back to leadoff.
"We have to make sure that we play [it] safe with him -- he doesn't try to do too much -- because it is a process. He missed so many games and he needs to catch up to the league now, and we just have to monitor and make sure he doesn't try to leave everything out there at one time."
Pie said he has no pain in his back and wasn't worried about having to make any long throws, which is what initially triggered the injury.
"If I have to throw to home, I'm going to throw fine," Pie said. "Because I feel OK and feel ready."
In his return, Pie went 2-for-6 with an RBI.
Bell stays up with O's for now
DETROIT -- Prior to Tuesday's game, rookie Josh Bell still wasn't sure if he would be the odd man out with the arrival of Felix Pie. But with the decision to put right-hander Kevin Millwood on the disabled list, the 23-year-old Bell will continue his first stint in the Major Leagues for at least a few more days.
"We didn't feel, at this point, that we needed to send Bell down," interim manager Juan Samuel said, although he admitted the organization took it under consideration. "We still think we could get him a few games here and there. We'll see what the decision is going to be on [the] Saturday [starter]. If that's going to be the one, maybe he needs to go down at that point. But right now, we want to keep him around."
Bell wasn't in Tuesday's starting lineup, but Samuel has started the rookie three times -- twice at third base and once as designated hitter -- since he was recalled on Thursday. He has started his career 1-for-7 with a run scored.
While it's too early to tell what kind of impact Bell will have at the Major League level, hitting coach Terry Crowley said the switch-hitter has made significant strides since the spring.
"The experience he's gained at [Triple-A] Norfolk has been good for him, and he's a better hitter now than he was in Spring Training," Crowley said of Bell. "Every at-bat is big for him. Whether he gets them here or in Norfolk, who knows? But he's coming along OK. He's going to be good for the organization down the road."
Garrett Atkins cleared waivers on Tuesday and, as expected, was granted his release. Atkins had said previously that he didn't foresee a future in the Orioles organization, although he would be open to a Minor League deal elsewhere if he found the right situation. ... Touted prospect Zach Britton allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings in his second start since being promoted to Triple-A Norfolk. ... Orioles closer Michael Gonzalez (left shoulder strain) tossed a scoreless sixth inning for Class A Aberdeen. ... Outfielder Lou Montanez (strained left oblique) is expected to begin his rehab on Wednesday at the team's Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.