Decisions looming two weeks before the opener

SARASOTA, Fla. - We’re under the lights again tonight, which means the clubhouse won’t open to the media until 2 p.m. You know the drill.

The Twins are coming to town, and left-hander Francisco Liriano will try to forget about his last visit to Sarasota. He allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings back on March 9 in an 11-2 loss to the Orioles.

Joe Nathan also is scheduled to pitch for the Twins.

Left-hander Brian Matusz will make his fourth appearance for the Orioles. He’s allowed four earned runs (five total) and six hits, with four walks and five strikeouts, in 7 2/3 innings.

It’s no longer necessary to ask about his wart.

Jason Berken and Clay Rapada also are scheduled to pitch.

The Orioles could make more cuts today. Manager Buck Showalter met with his coaching staff and figured to reduce the roster by the weekend. Feel free to speculate.

Rule 5 pick Adrian Rosario isn’t making the team, so the Orioles must determine whether they can work out a trade with the Brewers. Otherwise, they’d have to offer him back if another club doesn’t claim him.

Catcher Michel Hernandez will eventually be reassigned, but probably not until Craig Tatum is cleared to play.

How long before Rick VandenHurk is exposed to waivers?

The most interesting dramas still unfolding involve injuries, the rotation, the bullpen and the bench. Will Brian Roberts, Derrek Lee, Justin Duchscherer and Koji Uehara be ready for the April 1 opener? Will Chris Tillman or Zach Britton avoid another Triple-A assignment? Will Rapada beat out Mark Hendrickson, and is Josh Rupe forcing his way into the picture? Will Jake Fox beat out Tatum, win a utility job, be traded or be exposed to waivers?

Here’s one scenario for the rotation and bullpen: Showalter goes with a four-man staff until needing a fifth starter on April 10. He keeps an eighth reliever, perhaps allowing Rapada and Hendrickson to both make the team. They would join Uehara (assuming he’s healthy), Kevin Gregg, Jim Johnson, Michael Gonzalez, Jeremy Accardo and Jason Berken.

Jeremy Guthrie is starting on April 1, though Showalter still hasn’t made it official. Matusz and Jake Arrieta are locks to join him. Duchscherer has thrown only two innings and isn’t doing anything now besides stretching. He’ll need to get back on a mound very soon to remain a possibility for Tropicana Field. Brad Bergesen has options remaining and a 6.94 ERA, with nine earned runs (10 total) and 17 hits allowed in 11 2/3 innings. He’s walked five and struck out six, and opponents are batting .370 against him.

Exactly two weeks until the opener, and still lots of drama to play out.

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