Now that the dust has settled from that flurry of activity yesterday - Brad Bergesen’s arbitration ruling, Nick Johnson’s minor league contract - it’s time to wonder whether the Orioles are finished with the roster before pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 18.
I’m guessing that at least one more move is made before that date. Perhaps another late-inning reliever is added to the mix - Koji Uehara’s return remains a possibility if the Rangers lower their demands, though I wouldn’t place odds on it happening - or executive vice president Dan Duquette brings in one more hitter. And yes, Manny Ramirez is still on their radar. No odds on that one, either, but it’s certainly possible.
Duquette isn’t going to shut the door on trade or free agent possibilities with another week left before the Orioles gather at Ed Smith Stadium. I’m not expecting to hear him say, “I think we’re done.”
The rotation battle is going to be more fierce than any that I can recall since joining the Orioles’ beat full-time in 1997. They might need a cut man to work the corner.
You may not be enthralled with all of the candidates, but there’s no denying that it’s a wide-open competition. Usually, the drama centers on the fifth starter. That’s it.
The same goes for the bullpen. Usually, we’re waiting to learn the identity of the long reliever. The other six spots are easy to project. But not this spring.
Sure, there are the occasional surprises. Not many people had Josh Rupe breaking camp last April, but it happened. He was designated for assignment a month later, but it happened.
The Orioles might need to sign another dozen catchers for all the pitchers who will be working out at Ed Smith Stadium and Twin Lakes Park. They’ll have close to 100 pitchers in minor league camp.
As for Bergesen, he still isn’t sure of his role on the team and will prepare as if he’s going to be a starter until told otherwise.
“That’s been my goal,” he said yesterday. “I haven’t heard anything from the organization, how they view me or what they’re going to do with me in spring training, but I’ll prepare myself mentally and physically to fight for a spot in the rotation. That’s what I’m prepared to do and I hope that I get that opportunity going forward.”
The bullpen is a more likely landing spot, but he can still be placed on a starter’s schedule. That’s assuming he isn’t traded.
Bergesen has another minor league option remaining and might end up starting at Triple-A Norfolk. Other pitchers such as Dana Eveland and Alfredo Simon are out of options, which adds to the competition drama.
For now, I’ll guess that the rotation consists of Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada, but I’m not writing it down in permanent marker. Wada could be moved to the bullpen. Arrieta could be moved to Norfolk, though I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s starting the April 6 opener.
Is anyone going to Babe’s Birthday Bash tonight at Sports Legends Museum?
The event runs from 5:30-9 p.m. and includes special guests Matt Stover - who will receive the 2012 Babe Ruth Museum Community Service Award - Duquette, former catcher Chris Hoiles, University of Maryland football coach Randy Edsall, former Terps guard Johnny Rhodes and former Baltimore Colts Stan White, Fred Miller, Roy Hilton, Rick Volk, Jim Mutscheller, Marty Domres, Sanders Shiver, Tom Matte, Ordell Braase and Sam Havrilak.
I wonder what Bert Jones is doing these days?