What's happening at second base?

You know it's going bad for Jeremy Guthrie when he gives up one run yesterday and loses his 12th game.

Talk about no run support!

Guthrie pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief of Mitch Atkins. He's slated to start Thursday night against the Indians at Camden Yards, but he could switch places with Jake Arrieta.

Yes, the Orioles also play at Camden Yards. It's just been a while.

I can't talk about the rotation today. I'll get back to it later this week, but not today. I don't want to compute the ERA in the last 26 games - it was 7.41 before Atkins gave up six runs in 1 2/3 innings yesterday - and I don't want to sift through the pile of young arms toiling in the minors or theorize why the cavalry got thrown from their horses.

Roster changes are coming in the second half, perhaps as early as Thursday, since the bullpen is overflowing. But the Orioles seem content with their present situation at second base.

Brian Roberts will be re-examined Wednesday by Dr. Michael Collins in Pittsburgh. His baseball activities have increased. He's hitting soft toss and playing catch. Perhaps he'll be cleared for more strenuous duty.

No matter what Collins decides, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail isn't looking for another second baseman this summer.

"At the present time, I'm reluctant to make a big commitment to go out and find another second baseman, given we have some other needs," he said last week. "I'm not at the stage where I would just say that that's a priority at the present time. Any kind of pitching is always going to be a priority. I think we'll know more when we get to the offseason as to where second base ranks on the priority scale, based on what happens the last half of the year, but to finish this last half of the season, second base is not a priority."

Robert Andino made another start yesterday before shifting to third base when Mark Reynolds left the game with a bruised hand. Blake Davis took over at second, where he's made seven starts.

"Blake's actually, since his debut, done a pretty good job there. And Robert's hit lefties and Blake's had some success against righties," MacPhail said. "Robert's played very good defense at second. Very impressed with that. Blake's been OK. So, to invest something in that to finish the second half of the season, I don't see that happening. We'll see where we are at the end of the year."

The Orioles will have to decide whether to sign or trade for a second baseman over the winter, or whether they can rely on Roberts to give them a full season in 2012.

In the meantime, they could be adding another middle infielder sometime after the break as Cesar Izturis nears a return from the disabled list.

Is there a place for Izturis on this roster?

"Oh, yeah, I think so," MacPhail said. "We'll see how that goes. I think he's going to do fine. He should be fine. We got him because of the durability concerns with Roberts and (shortstop J.J.) Hardy, which turned out to be legitimate concerns. But when he's out there, he's a solid defender. We'll have a spot for him."

One final thought: Hardy told The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec yesterday that he's hopeful a contract extension can be finalized during the break, which sounds pretty ambitious. He says the ball is in the Orioles' court.

If it's in Hardy's court, you know he'll field it cleanly.

MacPhail isn't saying much about negotiations, knowing that it doesn't do his side any good. However, you can bet that a two-year offer won't get it done. The Orioles are aware of it.

If they're going to sign Hardy to an extension, they'll have to give him at least three guaranteed years.

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