BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones, Jim Johnson and Matt Wieters all had the same thing to say about what it was like going to the All-Star Game in Kansas City earlier this week -- it was a blast.
Jones and Wieters were both making their second trip while Johnson earned his first. For the Orioles' closer, he had more fun because Wieters caught during the inning he pitched, and Jones also was in the game at the same time.
"It made things easier [with Wieters catching]," Johnson said. "It was cool also to have Jonesy out there in center. All the guys were cool. It was a good time, a good experience."
This was Wieters' second consecutive trip, and he also enjoyed it, saying he felt a little more relaxed and used to things.
"I think every year you go back, you're still going to have a blast," he said.
The Orioles were one of the biggest surprises in the Major Leagues in the first half. Now, they want to be able to stay in contention for a playoff spot.
That's their big goal at the start of the second half.
"Teams have been looking at us like we aren't just a doormat," Jones said. "They know we can play."
Markakis returns to lineup, bats leadoff
BALTIMORE -- Nick Markakis is back, and the right fielder's return will signal a small change at the top of the Orioles' lineup.
Manager Buck Showalter put Markakis (.256, eight homers, 26 RBI) in the leadoff spot for Friday's game with the Tigers. With Brian Roberts out again, the Orioles need someone who can hit and get on base at the top of the order, and Showalter thought Markakis would fit the bill.
"It was something that I had thought about [when] seeing how we were going to be constructed post-break," Showalter said. "As always with Nick, whatever the club needs. I think he really liked the idea of getting a few more at-bats so he can catch up a little bit."
J.J. Hardy stayed second, with Jim Thome moving to the No. 3 spot, and Adam Jones fourth. Chris Davis moved to left field for the first time this season. He'd played 15 games in right while Markakis was out.
Markakis batted third in his first 50 games this season. He suffered a broken right hamate bone (wrist) and last played on May 29.
The right fielder said he believes this is going to be his first time batting leadoff in the Major Leagues. Showalter said Markakis could wind up with 30-50 extra at-bats if he remains in the top spot.
But the right fielder said mainly he's just glad to be back in the lineup. This is his seventh season with the Orioles and that was his first trip to the disabled list.
"It was tough," he said. "It was definitely something different. I'm just glad it's over with. I had a little heads-up [about batting leadoff]. You do what you've got to do."
Orioles activate Chavez from disabled list
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles activated outfielder Endy Chavez from the 15-day disabled list before Friday's game.
Chavez (.162) had been on the DL since June 13 due to a strained right hamstring. He was not in the starting lineup for Friday's game but does give the Orioles some outfield depth. In addition, the Orioles optioned outfielder Xavier Avery back to Triple-A Norfolk.
This was Avery's third time with the Orioles this season, and he's shown some talent, heading back to Norfolk with a .233 average. Avery will get to play on a regular basis back in the Minors, something that won't happen in Baltimore.
The Orioles might get to see back-up catcher Taylor Teagarden this weekend. He's been on the DL since April 4 with a strained back.
Teagarden has done well in rehab and is almost ready to go. Manager Buck Showalter said he'll be catching with Single-A Delmarva Friday, and if Teagarden (also battling a hand injury) does well, they could look at bringing him back to the Orioles Saturday.
Chris Tillman pitched for Double-A Bowie on July 9. Manager Buck Showalter said that was just to keep him going so the right-hander wouldn't have to sit around for "10 or 12 days." Tillman was named the team's Minor League Pitcher of the Month by Orioles Player Development.
Nick Johnson got an injection (right wrist) but remains in Sarasota working on rehab. He's still not close yet to picking up a bat.
Adam Jones nearly became the first Oriole to finish the first half with 100 hits, 50 runs, 20 doubles, 20 homers and 10 steals. He finished with 98 hits and 19 doubles.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.