Pregame Showalter

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles’ batting practice session is closed to the media this morning. They’re hitting on the back fields and reviewing their signs. Maybe they’re implementing a secret play.

Tommy Hunter, Chris Tillman and Alfredo Simon also are pitching in minor league games today at Twin Lakes Park, for those of you scoring at home. Hunter is throwing six innings, Tillman five and Simon three.

Simon is still in camp despite being placed on waivers.

Infielder Zelous Wheeler, signed off waivers from the Brewers, is here today.

Monday night’s game against Florida Southern will be a bullpen game for the Orioles. One reliever after another.

Jason Hammel will oppose Tsuyoshi Wada in Tuesday’s game against the State College of Florida. The Orioles are providing the starters for both sides.

Left-hander Brian Matusz is expected to pitch in Wednesday’s game against Triple-A Norfolk at Harbor Park. There are a few possible scenarios. We initially were told that Jason Berken would start for the Tides. Then we were told he’d start for the Orioles. Now it’s possible that he pitches in relief after Matusz. Stay tuned.

Manager Buck Showalter still won’t name his opening day starter. He indicated that two candidates remain, and we’re assuming that he means Jake Arrieta and Hunter. The smart money is on Arrieta.

“I should be able to let you all know by Tuesday,” Showalter said. “Potential things change. We’ll see how everything goes with Tommy today. Everybody’s got a little tweak here, a little tweak there. I’m a big believer in not having something come out from me verbally to the players here without hearing from me first, and two, being able to count on it 100 percent.

“There are other variables that might come into play this time of year.”

Showalter is having a little fun with the media by withholding this information. All that he gave us today was confirmation that Hammel would be in the rotation and Arrieta would make the team.

The 25-man roster has to be set by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

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