Orioles remain in running for Duchscherer

I'm hoping to provide at least one Justin Duchscherer update every day, just so I can learn to spell his name without having to look it up.

It's J-U-S-T-I-N.

Seriously, I did the same thing with Scott Kamieniecki. Not sure why I kept calling him "Justin."

Anyway, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal speculates in this tweet that the Orioles made a major league offer to Duchscherer. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Orioles and Nationals are among four finalists for Duchscherer.

President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail confirmed yesterday that the Orioles maintain interest in Duchscherer, but he also downplayed the significance of Friday's bullpen session in Arizona.

"We're pleased with the way he's come along at this point," MacPhail said. "As I mentioned before, that is not an uncommon occurrence for us. We have seen this year three or four guys throw in side sessions like we saw Justin the other day. Most of those guys are coming off some sort of rehab thing. We're pleased with what we've been able to see, but you can only learn so much from those kinds of tryouts."

MacPhail didn't sound like an executive who was ready to extend a major league offer, but we've been fooled in the past. It sure seems like the Orioles have stepped up, though MacPhail hasn't commented on the reports. Keep in mind that the club has one more opening on its 40-man roster.

Look for Duchscherer to make a decision this week.

MacPhail said he hasn't been able to guarantee any of the remaining free-agent starters a spot in the opening day rotation, but a healthy Duchscherer would have the inside track. That would severely lessen the chances for Chris Tillman and Zach Britton, who could provide much-needed depth at Triple-A Norfolk and be only a phone call away.

Manager Buck Showalter wants more competition in spring training. He wants a veteran starter to push the youngsters. Duchscherer would fill those needs.

Like most of the available starters, Duchscherer comes with health concerns. He underwent hip surgery in June and hasn't exactly been durable. But he was an All-Star in 2008 after posting a 2.54 ERA in 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics.

He obviously made a favorable impression on Friday - perhaps enough that he'll report to Ed Smith Stadium with the other pitchers on Feb. 13.

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