BALTIMORE -- The Orioles entered Thursday night's game waiting for their designated hitters to break out of their early-season doldrums.
Manager Buck Showalter inserted Steve Pearce into that spot Thursday in the series finale against Tampa Bay. Nolan Reimold, who served as the primary designated hitter while nursing a minor hamstring injury, started in left field in place of Nate McLouth.
Pearce rewarded Showalter for putting him in the lineup. After going hitless in his first two at-bats against the Rays, Pearce homered in the seventh to give the Orioles their first lead, and he then added a single in the ninth, raising his average to .118 during the 10-6 Baltimore victory.
"Definitely it was a relief; I haven't started out that well," Pearce said. "So it was nice to get a hit, get that going, a big hit for the team. It got the monkey off the back. And then I got to bat in the ninth and got a hit there, too. It definitely was a big sigh of relief."
Orioles designated hitters were 3-for-47 (.064) this season entering Thursday's game against the Rays, with only one homer and one RBI. Pearce was still looking for his first hit in 13 at-bats this season.
Pearce was happy that Showalter gave him the news hours before Thursday's game so he could mentally prepare. Pearce batted seventh in the lineup behind shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was also struggling with a .189 average. Showalter thought it was just a matter of time for the bats to get hot from the DH spot, and he expressed confidence Pearce could provide that spark.
"Stevie knows what's going on, trying to find a way to contribute against guys like Price and [Yankees pitcher CC] Sabathia," Showalter said before the game. "It's hard to do, but he's capable. He's done it in the past."
Dodgers to make rare trip to Camden Yards
BALTIMORE -- The Los Angeles Dodgers will visit Baltimore for the first time in 11 years, and the Orioles are expecting a buzz around Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the three-game series.
The teams share the nostalgia of playing in the 1966 World Series, which the Orioles swept in four games.
The weekend will be especially poignant for Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who played with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly in the Minor Leagues and later managed him on the New York Yankees. Showalter said Mattingly was one of the most technically gifted players he had been around and that he expected that success to carry over as a manager.
"Donnie just has a great presence about him," Showalter said. "He's got a real, pure heart. He's real sincere, and players see he has no real agenda."
Jason Hammel (2-1, 4.34) will get the start for the Orioles in the series opener. The Dodgers, however, are an old foe for Hammel, who faced them regularly when he pitched for the Rockies.
"It will be fun to get the 'Dodger Blue' over here," Hammel said. "I got to see plenty of them when I was with Colorado. We'll see how they changed over the past couple of years."
Injured O's progressing through recovery
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles got some encouraging news on the injury front Thursday prior to their series finale against Tampa Bay.
Left-handed starter Tsuyoshi Wada, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery from last season, threw 45 pitches in three innings in extended spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. Manager Buck Showalter said the start "went well" and that the team would see how he was progressing Friday. Showalter said Wada could go four innings and 60 pitches in his next outing.
Right-hander Steve Johnson, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right latissimus dorsi (back), threw four innings and 70 pitches. He got hit with a line drive in the thigh but continued to pitch. If Johnson feels well Friday, he will go on a rehab assignment with an undetermined Minor League affiliate, Showalter said.
Second baseman Brian Roberts, who is nursing a ruptured tendon behind his right knee, jogged on a treadmill in the pool for the first time. However, there is no definitive timetable for his return.
"That was encouraging," Showalter said about the treadmill work. "He's making some improvement. He's feeling better every day."
Also, Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia is expected to join Double-A Bowie on Friday. Showalter said Urrutia would play mostly corner outfield, but he could also see some time in center. To make room for Urrutia, Zelous Wheeler was placed on the disabled list
Todd Karpovich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.