DETROIT -- The Orioles optioned first baseman Joe Mahoney back to Triple-A Norfolk to clear a roster spot for Saturday night's starter, Zach Britton.
"They've got to do what they got to do," Mahoney said of the roster move. "[Orioles manager Buck Showalter] explained it to me, that they need the extra pitcher right now. It's just the business of it. Hopefully I'll be back up here soon in a few weeks and get some playing time."
The move keeps an extra arm in the bullpen with right-hander Steve Johnson serving as the long man for Britton, who has gone 1-1 with an 8.10 ERA in his first five starts this season. Britton was scheduled to pitch on Saturday for Norfolk before joining the team in Detroit on Friday. Johnson was also a candidate, but he pitched two innings of relief on Thursday, and the team was worried about how much length he would be able to give them in a start two days later.
"I just don't think it's fair to Steve to do that to him [by optioning him]," Showalter said of Johnson, who has gone 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three games, including one start. "As good as a year as he's having, and the potential to help us as the year goes on. Potential as a starter. I don't want to do anything that sets him back, either. It also keeps our depth. And keeps our ability to keep our bullpen intact."
Mahoney was with the Orioles for two games and entered in the bottom of the fifth inning when first baseman Mark Reynolds was ejected on Friday. Mahoney was recalled for the second time this season when the Orioles placed Wilson Betemit on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, and has gone 0-for-4 and made one start during two stints with the big league club.
Asked about the potential of a September callup, Mahoney said: "Hopefully I can come up and contribute and be a part of winning up here. It's a good time right now. I'll be watching them every night, and hopefully I can get back up here as soon as I can."
Mahoney won the Orioles' 2010 Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year Award after he hit .289/.344/.502 for Double-A Bowie in 2011. This season, he is hitting .263/.317/.390 for Norfolk.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.