SARASOTA, Fla. - The decision came easily for manager Buck Showalter. He just needed confirmation that Jason Hammel was healthy.
If Hammel's knee cooperated, he would take the ball on opening day at Tropicana Field for the Orioles.
"Just a health thing," Showalter said today after confirming Hammel's assignment.
"We look at it as one of the five starters. He will be the first guy of the season. We don't look at it like socially or whatever. It's just our team. It's, 'You're gong to pitch on this day.' It happens to be opening day. With the innings and everything, he's probably the most equipped.
"I think they know from here on out, it's about production and execution, and they know we're going to shuffle if we have to."
Unfortunately, Steve Johnson may not be in the deck for a while. He's a candidate for the disabled list because of a strained right latissimus dorsi.
"We're going to slow down Steve," Showalter said. "Some of the stuff he's kind of doing to test it and whatever, it's still there, so you probably won't see him pitch again this spring."
Asked about the disabled list, Showalter replied, "Potentially. Let's just see the next couple days. We're going to all sit down after BP and see where we are."
At least we know where to find Hammel on opening day.
"There were a lot of decisions for him to make last year, whether to have surgery or not and the whole idea was for him to come back and pitch for us, and pitch into the postseason," Showalter said. "That was what his whole offseason was about, was being a guy we can depend on every fifth day. In some cases, every sixth day."
For the Yankees:
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brennan Boesch RF
Ben Francisco LF
Jayson Nix 2B
Thomas Neal DH
Ronnier Mustelier 3B
Bobby Wilson C
David Phelps RHP
Robinson Cano didn't make the trip because of a stomach virus.
One more Orioles note: Showalter said he hasn't made a final decision on Mark Hendrickson, but the veteran left-hander will remain in camp through the end.