Orioles help soldier surprise his kids at Oriole Park

BALTIMORE -- U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ron Roberts surprised his daughter and two sons with his unexpected return from Afghanistan on Friday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Roberts' daughter, April, was singing the national anthem prior to the game with the St. Paul's School for Girls' group, "The Saints."

"I'm pretty darn excited about this," Roberts said prior to the game. "I want to thank the Orioles and the U.S. Army for making this happen. It makes it all worthwhile going to Afghanistan to get an opportunity like this."

Prior to the game, Roberts met several O's players in the clubhouse. Roberts told catcher Matt Wieters, "You guys are my heroes." Wieters responded, "You're our hero. It's good to have you home."

The Orioles showed Roberts on the scoreboard, where he delivered a message to April and sons Matthew and Michael. He then emerged from the tunnel and was swarmed by his three children.

"I'm so happy to be here," Roberts said. "I wouldn't miss this."

O's legends return to remember Weaver

Legends return to remember Earl Weaver

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles held a ceremony to honor Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, the team's long-time skipper who died this winter, before the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader against the Dodgers.

"A Celebration of Earl" featured several members of the Orioles family speaking about their former manager before the nightcap. Brooks Robinson, Rick Dempsey, Cal Ripken, Jr., Buck Showalter and others shared a variety of stories, most of which made the crowd laugh.

Hall of Fame third baseman Robinson drew a standing ovation when introduced. He played under Weaver for about 10 years and spoke for several minutes about how much both teammates and opponents respected the skipper.

"As a manager, he was terrific," Robinson said. "We're thinking about you, Earl, right now. God bless you."

Weaver was a colorful personality who managed the Orioles from midway through the 1968 season until the end of '82. He then took over again in '85 and ran the team until the end of '86, when he stepped down for good.

The Orioles celebrated what Weaver meant to the franchise. Everyone who spoke paid tribute to his strong personality and competitiveness that drove the Orioles to four World Series appearances -- and one championship -- during his time in charge.

Weaver didn't fear making moves that other managers wouldn't. One of the most memorable was moving Ripken from third base to shortstop very early in his career, which raised many eyebrows, but launched Ripken's career.

"I just thought he made a mistake," Ripken said with a smile.

Even though it was just 15 minutes prior to first pitch, Showalter spoke of what Weaver meant to him.

"It's an honor to be the manager of the Baltimore Orioles because of Earl Weaver," Showalter said.

A white No. 4 was painted in an orange circle in front of the team's first-base dugout, representing the skipper's number, which is retired by the club. Another "4" hung on the warehouse wall behind the right-field fence for the entire crowd to see.

Faith in Pearce paying off for Showalter

LAD@BAL: Pearce's RBI single plates Davis in sixth

BALTIMORE -- Steve Pearce had a .150 batting average entering the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader, and while that's not where he'd like to be, it's a big improvement from where the designated hitter stood a few days ago.

Pearce went hitless in his first two at-bats against the Rays on Thursday night, which left him 0-for-15 on the season. But Pearce has heated up, going 3-for-5 since and improving his average to .150.

He made the team thanks to a big seven-homer Spring Training, and it is why manager Buck Showalter said before Thursday's game that, even though he knew Pearce's numbers weren't great to start the season, everything would be fine.

"He's a Major League hitter," Showalter said before that game.

Pearce has made Showalter look good since that point.

He hit a two-run homer in that game, then drove in a run in Baltimore's 7-5 Game 1 win Saturday against the Dodgers.

No decision on Orioles' fifth starter

BAL@NYY: Chen goes six solid innings vs. Yankees

BALTIMORE -- With right-hander Jason Hammel moving his start from Friday to the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Dodgers, the Orioles will likely need a starter for Wednesday afternoon against Toronto.

The club does not want Hammel or Wei-Yin Chen, who is starting the second game of the twin bill, pitching on short rest. As a result, manager Buck Showalter said the the team would consider adding another pitcher because of the short week.

The available options would likely come from Triple-A Norfolk. One possibility is Zach Britton -- who started 39 games for the big league club in 2011 and '12.

"We'll see how these two games go," Showalter said. "It's not out of the equation. We'd rather not. It's not your typical back-to-back doubleheader. We're gonna have some time in between."

Showalter said the team began discussions about the option of bringing up another starter once the weather report showed the chances of playing on Friday were slim because of rain.

"It's more of a possibility we're gonna need a starting pitcher on Wednesday," Showalter said. "So, we have the options lined up -- and there are multiple options."

Johnson to make rehab start in Norfolk

BAL@NYY: Johnson hurls two scoreless frames of relief

BALTIMORE -- Orioles right-hander Steve Johnson will make another rehab start on Wednesday for Triple-A Norfolk, and is not yet an option for the Major League club.

Johnson, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right lat, threw four innings and 70 pitches in extended spring training on Thursday. He was hit with a line drive in the thigh, but continued to pitch.

The latest rehab start means that Johnson would not be available if the Orioles need to add a starter for Wednesday's game against Toronto because of Saturday's split doubleheader with the Dodgers.

"Steve is getting ready to get into the fray shortly," Showalter said.

Matusz to remain in bullpen for now

BALTIMORE -- Left-hander Brian Matusz has been one of the Orioles' most dependable arms in the bullpen, and manager Buck Showalter wants to keep that way ... at least for the time being.

Matusz, a former starter, appears to have found his niche as a reliever -- and is riding a five-game scoreless streak (4 2/3 innings). He has also stranded all 19 runners he inherited since moving into the bullpen in 2012.

"We still think he has that potential [to be a starter]," Showalter said. "Right now, he's in our bullpen. But he's not so far removed with the innings he's pitched to still be an option [as a starter]."

Matusz was 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts in '12 before being optioned to Norfolk on July 1. He returned to the club Aug. 24 and was transferred to the bullpen.

From that point, he allowed just two runs on five hits, with 19 strikeouts and and three walks over 13 1/3 innings for a 1.35 ERA.

"I really wouldn't want to get him thinking about that right now," Showalter said about starting. "He's pitching real well out of our bullpen."