BALTIMORE -- Since Brian Roberts made his long-awaited return to the Orioles' lineup on June 30, the team has kept three second basemen on the roster.
Roberts, who recovered from a hamstring injury, has been a regular in the lineup since his return, but he's played half his games at designated hitter. Manager Buck Showalter has given backups Alexi Casilla and Ryan Flaherty some playing time to ease Roberts back into the lineup.
So is Showalter comfortable with the way he's penned the second base spot in the order recently?
"No, it's not a perfect world," Showalter said. "I was kind of trying to break Brian in little by little, not take anything for granted, but I think you're going to see him as he gets his -- I wouldn't say confidence -- just comfortableness with where he is physically. You're going to see more and more of him on the field."
With Roberts likely becoming more of a regular in the field, that should mean diminished playing time for Flaherty and Casilla. But Showalter also said he doesn't want those two to disappear.
"I hope it evolves into [Roberts starting every day at second base]," Showalter said. "But I also want Cassi and Ryan to be involved, and I'll continue to do that. They have some skills too we want to take advantage of, and Brian knows that, too."
Flaherty, for his part, said he's fine taking a backup role if that's what is needed with Roberts' return to more consistent playing time.
"He's a heck of a player, he's got a track record. He's one of the best second basemen to play this game. So whatever they need me to play, I'll play," Flaherty said.
Flaherty had begun to get more regular playing time and was hitting well just before Roberts was activated from the 60-day disabled list. He said it just takes a little extra preparatory work to be a spot starter or a player coming off the bench. When he's not starting, he said he likes to work with third-base coach Bobby Dickerson and see more pitches off the curveball machine. He also will take as many as 100 ground balls instead of the 15-20 he'd take as a starter.
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.