Rotation taking shape (Phillips optioned)

The Orioles announced that Tommy Hunter will start the second game of the season Saturday, so we know the top three pitchers in the rotation.

Jake Arrieta, Hunter and Jason Hammel will start against the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards.

The assumption is that left-handers Wei-Yin Chen and Brian Matusz will start the first two games against the New York Yankees. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Norfolk today that he'll announce the rest of the rotation and the Orioles' 25-man roster after today's exhibition game.

Hunter seems like the logical choice to pitch the second game, but Chen will have to debut against the Yankees. So much for easing him into U.S. competition. And Showalter has two lefties going back-to-back.

Of course, the alignment is going to change. The Orioles have off-days on April 12 and 23, which could allow Showalter to skip turns.

Showalter may not announce his closer today or Thursday, choosing instead to make us wait until the Orioles have a slim lead in the ninth inning and the bullpen gates swing open. We're assuming that Jim Johnson will handle those duties.

Remember to check Steve Melewski's blog on MASNsports.com for game updates and any breaking news. Executive vice president Dan Duquette met with reporters this morning, and you can read about it here.

Update: Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Norfolk that Zach Phillips was optioned to Triple-A. Darren O'Day and Troy Patton have made the team.

This is a mild surprise. It appeared that Showalter would keep two lefties in the bullpen. And Phillips allowed only two runs and four hits in 11 appearances covering 13 1/3 innings.

Patton would figure to be the long man, except Showalter indicated in camp that if he kept one lefty, that pitcher would need to be available for matchup situations later in games.

If a starter gets knocked out early, the relievers will have to pass the baton.

Also, Showalter announced that Matusz will pitch the fourth game, with Chen pitching the fifth.

You can read more from Melewski right here.

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