HOU@BAL: Hardy spins and throws to retire Barnes

BALTIMORE -- Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla started at shortstop and second base, respectively, Saturday against the Mariners. It's not the usual look to the Orioles infield, as neither shortstop J.J. Hardy nor second baseman Brian Roberts got the start.

Roberts was placed on the paternity list yesterday to be with his wife, Diana, as the couple welcomed their first child, Jax Isaac, overnight Friday. Roberts will not be with the team Saturday and could possibly miss Sunday, too. Manager Buck Showalter said he expects Roberts to be on the team plane to San Diego when the Orioles leave for their West Coast road trip.

Hardy, meanwhile, got a day off from starting to rest his body. The American League Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop has started every game this season, and traveled to New York for the All-Star Break instead of taking time off.

"Buck's been trying to give me a day for about a month now, and I think today just kind of falls into that," Hardy said. "I'm going to take it and recover a little bit and think about the rest of the season and hopefully October."

Hardy said he was hoping to start all 162 games this season, because he'd never done it before, but added "161 is not bad. That's the new goal."

He said there isn't a specific injury that's ailing him, just general body soreness that's typical of any baseball player in August. And while having the time off for the All-Star break could have been a benefit to rest his body, Hardy said the experience was well worth it.

"I don't think three days or four days could have hurt. But would I trade that for going to the All-Star game? No way," Hardy said. "I had a blast, I think we all had a blast to represent the Orioles in that way and I wouldn't trade that for anything."

Showalter's decision to rest Hardy ended a streak of 150 games that Hardy and third baseman Manny Machado started together on the left side of the infield, dating back to last season.

Flaherty filled in for Roberts on Friday, too, and went 3-for-4 with a double and a homer. Casilla, who played in just four games in July, made his first start since July 8.

Showalter tossed for arguing balls and strikes

SEA@BAL: Showalter ejected disputing strike call

BALTIMORE -- Manager Buck Showalter was ejected in the seventh inning Saturday for arguing a strike call with Nick Markakis at the plate.

The Orioles had managed just two hits to that point on Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez. Showalter took exception to an 0-1 offering from Ramirez that home plate umpire Larry Vanover called a strike.

Markakis turned to argue the pitch and Showalter chimed in. Vanover tossed him, and Showalter popped out of the dugout to argue a little more.

It was the second ejection for Showalter this season and the 26th of his career.

Worth noting

• Jason Hammel's MRI revealed no structural damage, just inflammation around the ulnar nerve. The right-hander said the news was about as good as it could be, and he was relieved it wasn't something more serious.

Hammel said Saturday that he'll take two or three days off from throwing and continue taking anti-inflammatories. He plans to travel with the team on its West Coast road trip, and he said he should be on target to return when he's eligible on August 13.

• The Orioles optioned reliever Steve Johnson to Triple-A Norfolk after Saturday's loss to the Mariners.

Johnson was activated from the 15-day disabled to take Brian Roberts' roster spot while Roberts is on paternity leave. The reliever pitched an inning in Saturday's game, with two walks and two strikeouts.

The O's will add another player Sunday in a corresponding roster move.