SARASOTA, Fla. - I’ll let manager Buck Showalter pass along the injury updates. Why should I have all the fun?
“(Justin) Duchscherer’s got a chiropractor today and he’s got an MRA at 4 o’clock today,” Showalter said. “(Brian) Roberts has an MRI at 3:30. The doctor he’s been seeing, he’ll see him tomorrow at 9 o’clock when they’ve got all the pictures and all the stuff to make sure what we’re dealing with. We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. Derrek Lee hit off the tee today. Went well. Tomorrow, he’ll come in and hit soft toss and he will either take batting practice tomorrow or wait one more day to take actual live BP. He’ll make that decision tomorrow afterward. Koji (Uehara) is throwing in the bullpen as we speak.”
Is Showalter confident that Roberts will be ready for the April 1 opener?
“I think I’ll have a lot better grip on it after 9 o’clock tomorrow and we get everything,” Showalter said. “That’s there to verify that everything ... because you can’t really perceive until you get all the information there. Obviously, we have a lot of previous work done on him that can tell us if there’s anything that’s changed.”
Would Duchscherer’s replacement be internal?
“The only thing I look at as a field manager is we’re looking at options internally and they’re pretty good. I’m OK with that. Whether Andy (MacPhail) and our scouts think there are better options out there, I’ll leave it to them. We’re all aware of who might be out there, but we’re not at that point yet. But that’s a constant thing that scouts and front office do. But my focus is on the people we have here.”
Would he go with eight relievers or an extra bench player if he begins the season with a four-man rotation:
“A lot of this is going to depend on how the bullpen is constructed and who your fifth starter is and what would serve them and your club best. We’re going to break with the best group and the best makeup of the club that gets us off to a good start. The roster that we break with might not have the same look as the end of April.”
Would J.J. Hardy bat leadoff for Roberts?
“I wouldn’t rule anything out that this point on March 14. All of our experience in spring training, you hit that week, six days right here where you have a little spring training blahs. You don’t’ see the finish line yet, but the novelty of spring training and the newness has worn off. You’ve got to work through it. This next six, seven days, you’ve got to grind through them, and then you start to see the finish line. This is very common.”
Going back to the leadoff question, who replaces Roberts?
“Obviously, we don’t have anybody who’s done a lot of it, just because Roberts has been here. It’s something we’re looking at.”
Has Clay Rapada shown that he can get right-handers out, too, and be even more valuable in the bullpen?
“You have a need for a situational guy, but if he can defend himself when we’ve got left-right-left, like we feel (Michael) Gonzalez can, that’s great because you’re not getting guys up and down in the bullpen. That’s a real weapon left-hander, where you’ve got that left-right-left in the middle of the order and he can defend himself and keep that right-hander in the ballpark and you don’t have to make three pitching changes. It keeps everybody fresher. That’s the evaluation we’re looking at with Rapada. We feel good about the option he presents against left-handed hitters, but very few managers will allow you to load up those left-handers. If I see their one left-hander in the bullpen has pitched three days in a row, I feel comfortable about loading up our left-handers in the next game because he’s not going to be able to come in and set it up for them. I’m not sure yet. We’re still evaluating him. But he’s had the option of seeing a lot of right-handed hitters and he’s held his own so far. He is a candidate, a strong candidate.”
Would he keep three lefties in the bullpen?
“A lot of it depends on how many left-handed starters you have in your rotation at some point in the month of April. The bullpen changes according to how many left-handed starters. Say you draft a guy from, say, TCU who happens to be left-handed, and at some point (Zach) Britton gets to the big leagues and you end up with three left-handers ... in an ideal world you’ll end up with five and two. That’s the conventional way, with one of them being a guy who can handle himself against right-handers and the other being a situational guy. But if you have five right-handed starters, the need for three left-handers becomes a little more increased.”
My read on that last paragraph: The Orioles are still leaning toward starting Britton in Triple-A and bringing him up later. They can remove a lefty from their bullpen if they’ve got three.
The Orioles just announced that they have optioned first baseman Joe Mahoney to Triple-A Norfolk. Mahoney hit .412 (7-for-17) in seven spring games. The roster now stands at 45.