Squeezing the last game out of the Grapefruit League

SARASOTA, Fla. - We’ve reached the end.

It’s the last Grapefruit League game before the Orioles break camp. They’re playing at night again, and they’re playing the Rays again, and they’re facing Alex Cobb again after he struck out 12 Orioles in seven innings Saturday in a game that, yes, ended in a tie.

It’s really time to go home.

jimenez-with-glove-spring-training.jpgUbaldo Jimenez makes his last start before taking the mound on April 2 at Camden Yards. He allowed two runs over six innings in his most recent outing against, yes, the Rays.

We should expect more cuts to be made, though manager Buck Showalter indicated that the roster may need additional work beyond today. He keeps hinting at a possible trade or claim by saying that the Orioles have lots of irons in the fire and are checking on what’s happening in the baseball world.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette attended both split-squad games yesterday. He’s staying close to Showalter.

The Orioles have 36 players in camp. They need to remove 11.

Manny Machado, Francisco Peguero, Edgmer Escalona, Johan Santana, Nolan Reimold and Michael Almanzar will go on the disabled list, and Troy Patton will serve his 25-game suspension. That’s seven names crossed off the list.

T.J. McFarland and Kevin Gausman figure to be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. That’s nine.

Evan Meek or Alfredo Aceves? That’s 10.

The last decision could be Jonathan Schoop or Jemile Weeks, with Delmon Young and Steve Pearce co-existing on the 25-man roster.

Ryan Flaherty has no worries. Showalter told him on Tuesday that he made the club so he’d “stop walking on egg shells.”

Flaherty has his sunny side up.

“Any time you make the opening day roster, it’s exciting. I’m excited to get going and help this team any way I can,” Flaherty said.

“You never know what’s going to happen. You’ve got a lot of good players they brought in and there’s always competition in spring training. You can never be confident, for sure.”

Flaherty has headed north with the club for three consecutive springs, starting with his Rule 5 season.

“It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “I remember my first spring training that I made, I remember Nick Johnson telling me to be grateful for it. Not everyone gets the opportunity to make an opening day roster, so to make three of them is special. It’s something you don’t take for granted and it’s a good opportunity for me to help this team.”

Flaherty was supposed to be the starting second baseman, but he most likely will stay busy at third with Machado on the disabled list. He continues to impress at the hot corner. His glove won’t be an issue.

Showalter apparently hasn’t told Flaherty where he will play.

“We’ll see what happens when Monday comes and go day by day,” Flaherty said.

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