Jackson and Pearce playing waiting game

SARASOTA, Fla. - Miguel Gonzalez is making his final start of the spring today in the Orioles' last exhibition game. They break camp on Sunday and head to St. Petersburg.

Gonzalez has pitched in two Grapefruit League games, blanking the Phillies over two innings and allowing four runs (one earned) and four hits in two innings against the Pirates. Now he's facing the Mets, so he's working his way through the National League.

After today, Gonzalez's next start will come on April 4 against the Rays.

The Orioles haven't posted their lineup. They also haven't announced whether Conor Jackson or Steve Pearce will break camp with them.

"No idea," Jackson said as reporters approached his locker. "Haven't talked to anybody. I have no information for you guys.

"It's nerve-racking. I've played long enough in the game to know how it works. At this point, there's nothing I can do except sit here and wait for that call in the office. It's either good news or bad news. It's a stressful situation, but it's part of the game."

It's a situation that's foreign to Jackson, being among the last two men standing for one roster spot.

"No, this is it," he said. "I feel for them now. I need a Xanax prescription."

Jackson is batting .302/.327/.528 with three doubles, three homers and six RBIs in 22 games. Pearce is batting .341/.380/.818 with three doubles, six homers and 17 RBIs in 25 games. They both play first base and the outfield and can serve as right-handed designated hitters.

"It was kind of like two heavyweights battling against each other," Jackson said. "We were going back and forth. He's had a pretty good spring. It's one of those situations where, may the best man win it and go from there. But on the flip side, a lot happens during the season and I've been on teams where the 25-man roster starts one way and ends up a different way within six weeks. It's a funny game and things work differently."

The Orioles used 52 players last season. Jackson did the math before deciding to sign a minor league contract.

"One of my main factors in choosing this team was the fact that they had so many guys and they used so many guys, and especially guys like me, kind of older guys, and they give them some opportunities, so that was the main reason I chose to come here," he said.

Unlike Jackson, Pearce has gone down this road before with the Pirates. He knows what it's like to sweat out the final roster cuts.

"I've been in this situation before with the Pirates, so I know how to handle it," he said.

"I've had a good spring so far. Put together good at-bats, played some good defense. Now the decision is up to them.

"It's definitely tough. You want to be able to start making arrangements for the season. I have a family now and just for their sake, too. I think it's more nerve-racking for them than it is for me."

For the Mets:
Cowgill CF
Murphy 2B
Wright 3B
Davis 1B
Byrd RF
Duda LF
Buck C
Tejada SS
Valdespin DH

Gee RHP

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