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08/17/12 12:59 AM ET

Saturday starter in flux after Johnson's relief outing

BALTIMORE -- After a week of mystery, it appeared the Orioles had settled on Steve Johnson as Saturday's starting pitcher, but he then threw two scoreless innings of relief, allowing only one hit and fanning four in a 6-3 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday, putting the O's rotation back into question.

"We're talking about it a little bit," manager Buck Showalter said. "There's still that potential he can pitch there."

Showalter was looking to avoid J.C. Romero, Darren O'Day and Jim Johnson in Thursday's game, leaving only Pedro Strop and Steve Johnson in the 'pen after Kevin Gregg, Luis Ayala and Matt Lindstrom all appeared in relief of starter Chris Tillman.

"We were down to our last guy," Showalter said. "I was trying to stay away from Steve if I could. There's still somewhat of an option. We're going to have to think about it a little bit though and look at what other options we might have."

On Thursday afternoon, the Orioles announced Johnson as the probable starter for Saturday's game in Detroit, but Showalter said the team had other options at Triple-A if using Johnson on Thursday was unavoidable.

Triple-A Norfolk's scheduled starter for Saturday is Zach Britton, but the southpaw hasn't spent the required 10 days in the Minors following his Aug. 8 demotion. The only way he could be promoted is if he replaced somebody placed on the disabled list.

Jake Arrieta is scheduled to start for Norfolk on Friday.

Johnson was recalled from Triple-A on Aug. 8, earning the win in his first career start, as he allowed only two runs on five hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in six innings against Seattle.

He was then optioned back to Norfolk on Aug. 9 before being recalled on Tuesday to take the place of Troy Patton, who was put on the 15-day disabled list.

Despite the turbulent week, Johnson said the mental side of staying ready to pitch has not been an issue.

"I'm just going to pitch in the next couple of days, I know that much," Johnson said before Thursday's game. "Whether that's today, tomorrow or the next day, I'm ready for either one."

To try to stay physically prepared, Johnson has been skipping bullpen sessions in Norfolk, opting instead for the less-taxing long toss.

Johnson threw a few pitches off a mound on Wednesday "just to get a feel," but he has otherwise been working out to stay fresh.

"Whether it's going back in the bullpen, or spot start, or whatever it is, I'm ready for it," Johnson said.

Bone bruise, cartilage tears lands Betemit on DL

BALTIMORE -- Wilson Betemit was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, retroactive to Sunday, due to a bone bruise and a partial tear of the cartilage in his right wrist.

Joe Mahoney was called up from Triple-A Norfolk to take Betemit's place on the active roster.

Manager Buck Showalter said Betemit would receive an injection on Thursday night and then travel to the team's Spring Training facility in Sarasota, Fla., on Friday morning. Betemit is expected to take a week to recover before potentially returning to baseball activities.

Because Betemit has not played since Saturday, he will be eligible to come off the DL on Aug. 27.

"We have high hopes that he'll be a player for us on the 27th," Showalter said.

Betemit's sore wrist had been creating issues when he tried to swing during the past couple of days, leading the team to conduct an MRI on Thursday morning.

Prior to the injury, Betemit had been platooning at first base with Mark Reynolds. Betemit is hitting .306 against righties and .143 against lefties this season.

Mahoney started at first base and was scheduled to hit fifth for Norfolk on Thursday afternoon before being pulled in the second inning.

Mahoney caught a flight to Baltimore to try to avoid traffic and was expected to arrive around 4:40 p.m. ET, which would have allowed him to participate in the final round of batting practice.

Showalter said Mahoney's status with the team is day to day, depending on the state of the Orioles' bullpen.

"We'll see what our needs are after tonight, and after tomorrow, and after the next day," Showalter said. "Joe has done well down there, though."

Mahoney has played 118 games for Norfolk this season, hitting .263 with nine home runs and 53 RBIs.

Reimold making progress, no timetable for return

BALTIMORE -- Nolan Reimold is progressing well in his recovery from surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, but manager Buck Showalter said it was too early to start thinking about a possible postseason return.

Reimold, who has been on the disabled list since May 5 and underwent surgery on June 25, is gaining strength every day and is about four weeks into an eight-week rehab program.

"He's right where he needs to be, if not a little ahead of it," Showalter said. "Everything that the doctors felt like he would start feeling and realizing has happened so far, so that's a good sign."

Reimold was a productive fixture at the top of the O's order in April, hitting .313 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in only 16 games.

After treatment with epidurals did little to relieve the numbness and tingling that were bothering Reimold, he opted to undergo a spinal fusion surgery, the same procedure NFL quarterback Peyton Manning underwent.

Reimold's biggest hurdle is getting his strength back, a process he is preparing to work toward well into the offseason.

"I just want him to continue and not get ahead of himself," Showalter said. "There's some unknown about where he's going to be with range of motion, the whole nine yards. The chances that it's going to be full go, it's in his favor. But we'll see. Anytime you're dealing with a spine and back and everything, you really kind of wait with bated breath regardless of what the experts tell you."


• Showalter said Jason Hammel's bullpen session on Wednesday went fine from a physical standpoint, although Hammel did not perform as well as he did during his first session on Monday. Hammel has been on the disabled list since July 15 due to a right knee injury that required surgery, and Wednesday was the first time he'd thrown with only one day of rest between sessions. Hammel's next step would likely be a simulated game, but Showalter said that would probably not come until after this weekend.

• Ryan Flaherty started with Norfolk on Thursday as he continues his recovery from a bacterial infection, finishing 0-for-4. He is 0-for-12 in three games in Triple-A this week.

• Steve Tolleson returned to Norfolk after a stint on the disabled list due to a broken right index finger, starting at shortstop on Thursday. He finished 1-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.

Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.