BALTIMORE -- Left fielder Nate McLouth, a left-handed hitter, started the season with a defined role in the batting order: leadoff against right-handers. He wouldn't typically start against left-handers.
But recently he has been a mainstay in the lineup, regardless of the opponent on the mound.
He has conceded the leadoff spot to Nick Markakis, instead hitting in the sixth or seventh position, but he's just happy to have the chance to play every day.
"That's fine with me," McLouth said of batting lower in the order. "I like Nick leading off against lefties, because he hits. Nick's the kind of guy who, if you look at his numbers, they're probably the same against whatever pitcher, whatever inning, home, road, he's just so consistent."
With Nolan Reimold (hamstring) expected to rejoin the Orioles as early as Tuesday, manager Buck Showalter may have a decision to make when his club is facing left-handed starters. It's no guarantee that McLouth will go back to the bench against lefties, though, because he started a few times instead of Reimold earlier this season when both were healthy.
In 220 at-bats against righties, McLouth is hitting .291/.367/.386. Against lefties, in a small sample size of 41 at-bats, his line is .244/.340/.439. In addition, he's successfully stolen 24 bases in 28 attempts.
Roberts returning to O's lineup on Sunday
BALTIMORE -- Brian Roberts' return to the lineup is expected to come on Sunday night, for the series finale against the Yankees.
The switch-hitting second baseman played six innings and went 0-for-3 on Friday for Triple-A Norfolk, exiting the game early due to the inclement weather. Roberts will drive to Baltimore on Saturday afternoon, according to manager Buck Showalter.
"He's been playing at a high intensity," Showalter said of Roberts, who is 3-for-13 with a pair of walks and has reportedly played good defense in the Minors. "[Tides manager Ron Johnson] has been effusive in his praise at the way he looks and the way he goes about things. He's making a couple of good defensive plays every night, playing with ... all the jerks and twitches and things that go on down there. He [adds] a lot of intensity to the games he plays in, he's seeing a lot of pitches."
The Orioles have two players on the 25-man roster who are primarily second basemen: Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla. Showalter could envision a roster that contains all three of them. Flaherty has an option, Casilla does not.
The 35-year-old Roberts played just three games this season because of his injured right hamstring, which required surgery, and has appeared in just 118 games since the beginning of the 2010 season.
An extended outing will help both Britton and O's
BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton will face the Yankees on Saturday in his third start since being promoted from Triple-A Norfolk, and the 25-year-old's main task will be going deeper into the game.
Britton has thrown just 10 1/3 innings over his last two starts, exiting before going a full six in both, but he will have another chance to solidify his rotation spot with a strong showing against the Yankees. New York entered the weekend set fresh off being two-hit by Texas starter Derek Holland and is batting .233/.306/.337 against left-handed pitching this season.
"[I'm] not necessarily going to focus on the sixth, because you have to get there," Britton, who is 1-2 with a 5.51 ERA over the three starts, said of his approach, "[I have to make] sure I'm being a little more efficient when there's guys on base -- taking my time versus making a good pitch, not letting the game speed up a little bit. I think that's really about it. Not overthinking it and just making sure I'm getting ahead of hitters all the way through."
Although Britton has looked sharp stuff-wise, he knows he has to give the team more innings if he wants to remain in the rotation and take some stress off the bullpen. With lefty Wei-Yin Chen slated for his first -- and perhaps only -- rehab start on Saturday, the Orioles will have a decision to make in terms of the upcoming pitching plan, and a long outing would certainly help Britton's case. He was the odd man out earlier this year, being optioned after allowing six earned runs over six innings in Seattle on April 29, and has gotten an extended opportunity this time around.
"It's tough when you think you have to have a really, really good start every time out, otherwise you are going to go back down," he said. "It's a ton of pressure. Not only is it hard to compete on this level anyway, but [when] you put that pressure on, it makes it impossible to go out there and be the kind of pitcher you want to be.
"So [being up here longer], I have a little bit better routine now. You hope you get a nice extended look and find a groove. ... As long as I get deep in the game and give my team a chance to win, I think I'll be OK."
• Top position player prospect Jonathan Schoop (lower back) has been doing "baseball-like activities," according to manager Buck Showalter, and the target for him to start playing again is July 17.
• Wilson Betemit, who was shut down for several days because of some soreness, has resumed baseball activities. He is recovering from surgery on his right knee, but it has been a slow process.
• Steve Johnson is throwing off flat ground at the team's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla.; Steve Pearce (wrist) has not been cleared for baseball activities.
• Nolan Reimold (right hamstring) is serving at designated hitter for Double-A Bowie on Friday, and the expectation is that he will be activated for the start of Tuesday's road trip in Chicago.
• Jake Arrieta tossed seven scoreless innings in his first start for Triple-A Norfolk since being optioned, striking out 10.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Derek Wetmore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.