BALTIMORE -- Though they have lost six of eight games, the Orioles have managed to keep the mood light in the clubhouse as they try to get back on track in the postseason race, and Wednesday afternoon was no exception.
Several members of the Maryland Table Tennis Center club were in the clubhouse hours before the series finale against the Rays, with the Orioles pitted against some of the best young players in the world.
"Nobody in here [was] able to get their serve back," manager Buck Showalter said after taking in some of the games, which caused a lot of laughter and good-natured ribbing as the table-tennis players easily bested the professional athletes.
Showalter thinks it's important to have fun over the grind of a 162-game regular season and stressed that the clubhouse isn't his domain.
"It's the players' clubhouse. It's not mine," said Showalter, who had the coaches' lockers moved out of the clubhouse in one of his initial moves after taking the helm in 2010. "It's a place I want them to feel like they want to come to.
"The environment is important. So many serious things go on there for three or four hours. We have a lot of things that go on, a lot of things that happen on the road that nobody knows about. We've got 100 things going on, fantasy football, and thank God. Otherwise it'd be boring. They're -- some of them I can't talk about -- pretty funny."
Showalter looking ahead to roster expansion
BALTIMORE -- Manager Buck Showalter met with Dan Duquette, executive vice president of baseball operations, on Wednesday to go over potential September callups and said that the organization is considering players who are not on the 40-man roster.
Top pitching prospect Kevin Gausman is expected to be among the callups, and bringing in reserves should allow Showalter to better distribute the load in the bullpen.
Showalter, who is meticulous when it comes monitoring the bullpen's workload, said that he wouldn't hesitate to stretch out relievers -- even closer Jim Johnson -- to multiple innings if needed over the next few days.
"There's not a long haul now. Our guys understand there's some different dynamics going on now with 30-something games left," Showalter said. "You are going to see [starters Scott] Feldman and Miguel [Gonzalez] in the bullpen, different areas, until we get to September. I don't think you will necessarily see us call all the 40-man callups on one day, either."
Designated hitter Wilson Betemit, who will continue his rehab on Thursday with Triple-A Norfolk, will be monitored closely over the next few days as the team weighs whether to activate him from the 60-day disabled list or extend his rehab and have him come up as part of roster expansion.
As they did last year, the Orioles will have players continue to work out at the team's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., in case of an emergency.
Harvey impressive in his Aberdeen debut
BALTIMORE -- Right-hander Hunter Harvey, the Orioles' first-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, was impressive in his debut for short-season Aberdeen on Tuesday night.
Harvey -- who consistently threw his fastball in the 93- to 94-mph range -- worked 4 1/3 innings and allowed one unearned run that held up as the decisive tally in a loss to the Hudson Valley Renegades.
"When you're taking a pitcher in the first round, you're trying to identify that guy as a No. 1 or No. 2 starter. A top-of-the-rotation guy. And that's what he looked like," IronBirds manager Matt Merullo said of Harvey, who was selected with the 22nd overall pick.
Harvey gave up four hits, two of which were infield singles, struck out five and walked just one. He exited in the top of the fifth inning after throwing 76 pitches; the run scored after he was out of the game.
Showalter gives struggling Johnson night off
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles used three pitchers in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 4-2 win, none named Jim Johnson, raising the question: How much can you read into manager Buck Showalter's decision?
"Oh, sure, you can read," Showalter said of the move to give the struggling Johnson a night off. "We've got 30-something games [left]. We're going to put our best foot forward every night. Jimmy's our best option, one of them. I'm glad we've got more than one good option. We've got a lot of good options, and we'll continue to make use of them."
Johnson (3-7, 3.58 ERA) has blown three consecutive save opportunities after converting 10 straight, and he allowed runs in four of his last five appearances. The Major League leader in both saves and blown saves, Johnson didn't warm up on Wednesday; Showalter said the right-hander wasn't available.
"I could have pushed it," said Showalter, who used Darren O'Day, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter instead. "[Johnson] had been up two or three days in a row and pitched last night. He's like second or third in appearances, and I was trying real hard to stay away from him."
Hunter, who entered with runners on first and second and no outs, retired two batters before Matt Wieters threw out Kelly Johnson trying to steal second to end the game. It was Hunter's fourth career save; all have come this season.
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.