BALTIMORE -- After two months of overthinking his at-bats and trying to pull every pitch he saw, Wilson Betemit has changed his approach, and the results are starting to show in his performance.
In his last eight games, dating back to June 18, Betemit is hitting .542 with a pair of home runs. That hot streak, plus a favorable pitching matchup on Friday against right-hander Derek Lowe and the Indians' bullpen, prompted manager Buck Showalter to move Betemit up to fifth in the Orioles' order, the highest Betemit has hit this season.
"Wilson's swinging the bat well, probably as good as anyone we've got," Showalter said.
After an 0-for-5 against Toronto on May 29, Betemit was hitting .214 for the season. Heading into play on June 29, Betemit's average was up to .271.
"When I started the season, I was thinking too much at the plate," Betemit said. "Trying to do to much. Basically I was trying to pull every time. I would swing at everything."
After putting in some extra work in the batting cages before the game, Betemit has adjusted and is now using the entire field.
He also said he has become more selective, looking for "one good pitch to hit."
"He's taking what they're giving him," Showalter said.
"Right now, I just go to home plate more patient," Betemit said. "Every time I go up there I'm just trying to hit the ball right in the middle. ... You have to take it the other way and take it in the middle, and that's what I do right now."
Markakis eyes return to O's before All-Star break
BALTIMORE -- Although he is yet to pick up a bat, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis is not ruling out a potential return before the All-Star break.
Markakis was not wearing any bandages and said his wound was mostly healed when he spoke to a group of reporters on Friday, but he added that he usually keeps it covered as a precaution.
Markakis has been on the 15-day disabled list since having part of his broken right hamate bone removed on June 1, and he was expecting to see a doctor Friday afternoon.
"It's getting there," Markakis said. "I'd like to get in some games before the break, and this way, I've got my feet a little wet going into the second half."
Although Markakis is yet to resume baseball activities, he said it was still a possibility he could play during the O's series against the Angels on July 5-8.
"I can say it's a possibility, anything is a possibility," Markakis said. "But I've just got to wait and see how my hand reacts, get this thing closed up and get the ball rolling."
On Thursday night, manager Buck Showalter said Markakis would not be traveling to Seattle for a series that starts on Monday. Instead, Markakis will continue his recovery with the local Minor League affiliates at Aberdeen and Bowie.
"I'd like to be back, but I don't know my healing process," Markakis said. "I've just got to wait, and only time will tell."
Orioles set to make it official with three Draft picks
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have agreed to terms with second-round Draft pick Brandon Kline, fourth-round pick Christian Walker and seventh-round pick Matt Price, according to an organizational source.
The Orioles have now agreed to terms with eight of their top 10 picks, as first-rounder Kevin Gausman and fifth-rounder Colin Poche remain unsigned. The signing deadline for 2012 Draft selections is July 13.
Kline is a right-handed pitcher from the University of Virginia with a low-90s fastball and a powerful 12-to-6 curveball.
Kline served as a reliever his first two seasons before making 15 starts and posting a 7-3 record with a 3.56 ERA in 2012. He recorded 94 strikeouts with 43 walks in 93 2/3 innings.
Walker played first base at the University of South Carolina and hit .321 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs last season.
Price, also from South Carolina, is a right-hander who has been a closer for the majority of his career and projects to come out of the bullpen at the next level, although director of scouting Gary Rajsich said that decision is yet to be made. Price pitched to a 3.48 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings last season with South Carolina.
The impending signings, first reported by MASN, will not made official until the three players pass physicals.
Nick Johnson's MRI did not reveal a tear or any significant damage to his injured right wrist. He said he plans to wear a brace for a week, at which point he will be reevaluated.
Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter recorded his 3,185th hit against the White Sox on Friday, passing Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr. for 13th on the all-time hits list. "Congratulations to Derek on passing me on the all-time hits list," Ripken said in a statement. "Derek has been such a special player for such a long time and I am happy to see him continue to play at a high level. He represents the game and the Yankees wonderfully and I hope that he continues to play and continues to give all of us baseball fans great memories."
Endy Chavez's strained right hamstring, which landed him on the 15-day disabled list on June 14, has been slow to heal and the team is considering getting a second opinion. Chavez is yet to run outside, working only on a treadmill and in the pool.
Matt Wieters hit seventh in the Orioles' batting order, the lowest he's hit this season. Showalter said this has a lot to do with the pitching matchup, as Wieters has hit .409 against lefties and .196 against righties.
Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.