Keep your hands off my mama, keep your hands off my Doritos.
Consider yourselves warned.
Since we examined the 13 available spots for position players earlier today, let’s shift to the 12-man pitching staff.
Keep in mind, of course, that performances and potential late acquisitions will influence the list. We’re tackling this issue on Feb. 8 (and doing a much better job of it than the Colts’ secondary).
Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergesen and Brian Matusz are expected to break camp as members of the starting rotation. Perhaps Guthrie moves down so we don’t have innings-eaters going back-to-back, but that’s a separate debate.
Chris Tillman is the early favorite to win the fifth starter’s job, so I’ll include him here and move on to the bullpen.
Mike Gonzalez is the closer. The Orioles aren’t paying him a guaranteed $12 million over two years, with an additional $4 million possible in incentives, to work in a set-up role.
Jim Johnson, Mark Hendrickson - if he ever signs - and a healthy Koji Uehara can be penciled into the ‘pen, leaving us with three more openings. Determining who fills them is complicated by the Orioles’ interest in signing another left-hander.
Update: I’m told that Hendrickson’s signing is expected this week, and the delay shouldn’t be viewed as a red flag. I’m postponing the candlelight vigil. And I’m not bringing up Hendrickson’s name again until he’s officially passed his physical.
Until I’m told otherwise, Will Ohman remains their first choice to serve as a specialist if he’s willing to accept a minor league deal with a spring invite. He’s a health riddle after undergoing elbow and shoulder surgery, but that makes him more easily obtainable.
If we’re playing the hand that we’ve been dealt on Feb. 8, we can sort through a pile that includes Cla Meredith, Matt Albers, Kam Mickolio, Dennis Sarfate, Alberto Castillo and Mike Hinckley. I’ll be surprised if left-hander Wilfrido Perez makes the jump from Double-A to the majors after undergoing surgery in July to remove bone chips from his elbow, but he’ll be in the running. And it’s probably too soon for Luis Lebron.
It’s also conceivable that the Orioles shift David Hernandez or Jason Berken - yes, I’m grouping them together again - to the bullpen. Berken could be a swingman. Hernandez could do the same or be used later in games as a one- or two-inning power arm who serves as a bridge to the set-up man.
Another debate: Are they better off in a major league bullpen or Triple-A rotation?
The bullpen competition might be the most interesting aspect of spring training, beyond Miguel Tejada’s adjustment to third base and the curiosity surrounding top position prospect Josh Bell.