Matt Antonelli's road back to the Major Leagues is taking a pit stop in Norfolk, Va.
The Baltimore Orioles trimmed their Spring Training roster to 33 players on Monday, in the process optioning Antonelli to their Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tide.
The 26-year-old infielder from Peabody was essentially competing with Ryan Flaherty and Steve Tolleson for the Birds' utility infield spot and it appears Baltimore will go with Flaherty, who as a Rule 5 draft selection may have had a leg up on the competition.
Antonelli, a St. John's Prep and Wake Forest alum, has six hits in 31 at-bats spread over 20 games this spring. He was hitting .294 a week ago but went for 1-for-15 over his last six games to drop of .194. The infielder has a solid .333 on-base percentage this spring along with six runs scored, six walks and a stolen base.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter told Orioles.com that the players optioned Monday, including Antonelli, could be back with the big club soon and were sent down to get at-bats everyday and get ready for the season by playing.
The Orioles signed Antonelli to their 40-man roster this winter after he had an all-star season for the Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, in 2011. He hit .297 for the season with the Chiefs along with eight homers and 30 RBI, playing second and third base. The International League mid-season all-star nod was his first in four years, capping a comeback from a wrist injury that caused him to miss the entire 2010 season.
— Matt Williams