Steve Johnson shut down with sore lat muscle

SARASOTA, Fla. - Jason Hammel has been told about his next start and where he fits in the Orioles rotation, but he asked reporters to get the information from manager Buck Showalter.

Hammel clearly has been chosen as the opening day starter on April 2 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Official word is pending.

Wei-Yin Chen is lined up to pitch the second game, followed by Miguel Gonzalez. The starter for the home opener on April 5 against the Minnesota Twins could depend on Chris Tillman's status.

Meanwhile, Steve Johnson remains shut down with a sore right latissimus dorsi. He hasn't thrown since his last start against the Rays on March 22, and couldn't go through with his planned bullpen session yesterday because of continuing discomfort.

"We're trying to go day-by-day," he said. "I tried taking a couple days off and rest and see how it felt and tried to get back into things, but whatever's there is still there bothering me. Just taking it day-by-day and see what happens.

"I felt it in my bullpen before my last start. I pitched with it that game. It heated up and everything, so it was fine. It's something minor. Just hoping that instead of pitching with it, try to get it out of my system. Who knows how long? Just try to rest it a little bit and get back into things.

"I think it's one of those things where I can pitch with this. I've pitched with things before, but it's to a point where I don't want to ... I'm trying to make this team and I don't want to miss any time, but I don't want this lingering throughout the season, so we're just going to try to rest it for however long. Hopefully, it's a short period of time. I don't want to miss any time, so as soon as I can get back to throwing without feeling anything, I'm going to try to get back as quick as possible."

Johnson, who allowed three runs and two hits, with three walks, in four innings against the Rays after tossing four scoreless innings against the Twins, isn't sure whether he will remain in Sarasota when the Orioles break camp.

"We haven't gotten that far yet," he said. "The goal was to take a couple days off and throw yesterday and try to get ready to pitch in the game tomorrow, but right now we just have to rest it. I haven't really talked to anyone but the trainers and Rick (Adair) about it. We're just going to try to get it healthy. I don't really know any game plan or anything like that, so we'll see. Hopefully, no more than a couple days."

Tillman will start Friday's 2 p.m. game against State College of Florida at Ed Smith Stadium. Entry to the game is free. Reserved tickets for seating near the SCF dugout are $5 and proceeds will benefit SCF Manatees Athletics to support scholarships and athletic department operations.

Free parking will be available in the East Lot.

For more information and to reserve tickets, contact the SCF athletics department at 941-752-5261.

Fred Ferreira, the Orioles' executive director of international recruiting, has signed the following players:

Outfielder Dan Franco, Dominican Republic; Edwin Soto, catcher, Dominican Republic; Gonzalo Galastica, shortstop, Panama; Geremiaas Gil, outfielder, Panama.

Ferreira also signed two U.S. players who tried out for the Orioles: Second baseman Tucker Nathans and outfielder Andrickson Zorrilla.

Ferreira said Gil, Nathans and Zorrilla have plus bats, and Soto has a plus arm, defensive skills and power.

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