Revisiting the rotation

On slow news days, which pretty much covers most of the winter, we’ve kicked around different combinations that could make up the Orioles rotation in 2013.

Up to this point, I’ve gone with Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman and TBA. The candidates are plentiful, and we can add one more arm to the mix.

Jair Jurrjens will officially become an Oriole next week after he passes his physical. He will be given every chance to earn a spot in the rotation, but having minor league options remaining makes life a little easier for manager Buck Showalter, who loves maneuverability on his pitching staff.

Jurrjens could join an equally crowded rotation at Triple-A Norfolk. And we still don’t know whether executive vice president Dan Duquette has ended his pursuit of left-hander Joe Saunders.

That fifth spot in the Orioles’ rotation is so wide open, you could drive an 18-wheeler through it. And we can’t dismiss Tsuyoshi Wada. He probably will stay back in extended spring training, but there’s always the possibility that he challenges for a job in camp, since he’s regarded as being ahead of schedule following ligament-reconstructive surgery last May.

The young starters say they love competition. Well, they’re going to get plenty of it.

I’ve been asked for my opinion on the Jurrjens signing. I’m aware of his diminished velocity, his rising walk rate and his lowered strikeout totals. If you check his stats past the first half of the 2011 season, you won’t be encouraged. But much of the blame can be aimed at his knee injuries. They affected his radar gun readings and his command.

At a guaranteed $1.5 million, this is the classic low-risk, high-reward acquisition, and it quenches Duquette’s thirst for pitching depth.

Jurrjens was an All-Star in 2011. He has a career 53-37 record and 3.62 ERA in six major league seasons. At that price, I’d take a look at him.

Nothing wrong with stashing him at Norfolk if he doesn’t break camp with the Orioles. Considering how many pitchers the Orioles used last year, he’ll be recalled sooner or later.

Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” today from 11 a.m.-noon on MASN. Then I’m headed to the Eastern Shore for the Shorebirds Hot Stove Banquet at the Delmar VFW, which will include guest speaker Kent Qualls, the new Orioles director of minor league baseball operations.

New Delmarva manager Luis Pujols and former manager Ryan Minor - who moved up to Single-A Frederick - also will speak. I may be coaxed into saying a few words, as well.

Duquette had to cancel because he’s attending the memorial service in Florida for Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver.

The cocktail hour will run from 5-6 p.m. Mark me down for 5 p.m.

Here’s more information from the press release issued by the Shorebirds:

Shortly after a brief introduction, a buffet style Eastern Shore dinner will be served. Following dinner, the speakers will entertain banquet attendees. There will be an interactive question and answer period with the speakers to conclude the banquet.

The silent auction, which will benefit the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore, will open at 5 p.m. and close at 7 p.m. Premium items include: a Frank Robinson autographed 8x10 photo, a Nick Markakis autographed baseball, a Cal Ripken, Jr. Hall of Fame plaque, four rounds of golf at Nutters Crossing Golf Club, an Earl Weaver autographed baseball and much more.

The Shorebirds also have raffle items for fans to win. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase near the main entrance of the Delmar VFW banquet room. Proceeds from the raffle will also directly benefit the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore.

For more information about the event, contact Shawn Schoolcraft at 410-219-3112, ext. 168.

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