The last cuts are the deepest

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are playing two games today and the biggest news will come at the conclusion of each one.

Cuts will be made. Deep, bloody cuts.

The Orioles have 40 players on their camp roster and need to eliminate 15. Four of them will go on the disabled list - Manny Machado, Edgmer Escalona, Francisco Peguero and Johan Santana - and Troy Patton will begin serving his 25-game suspension.

That's five.

Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar has tendinitis in his left patella and could be placed on the DL.

That's six.

Kevin Gausman, Steve Johnson and T.J. McFarland could be ticketed for Triple-A Norfolk and make up three-fifths of the rotation

That's nine.

Quintin Berry most likely will be patrolling the outfield in Norfolk.

That's 10.

Assuming that the Orioles go with a 12-man pitching staff, the last bullpen spot comes down to Evan Meek and Alfredo Aceves. One of them will be optioned.

That's 11.

Four cuts figure to be made out of a group consisting of Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce, Delmon Young, Henry Urrutia, Steve Lombardozzi, Jonathan Schoop, Jemile Weeks and Alexi Casilla.

That's 15.

If Urrutia is sent down, the Orioles don't really have a left-handed designated hitter. Not saying they can't live without one. I'm just pointing it out.

I've got Lombardozzi making the club. Heck, he could start at second base on opening day.

It's doubtful that Reimold, Pearce and Young carpool to Camden Yards. That's too many right-handed corner outfielder/DH types.

Pearce's ability to play first base works in his favor. And like Reimold, he's out of options.

If I've got Lombardozzi at second and Ryan Flaherty at third, the Orioles will need another infielder. Casilla and Schoop are more versatile than Weeks. However, Weeks could play second while Lombardozzi shifts into utility mode. Or Schoop could play third on occasion while Flaherty is the utility guy.

Confused? I am.

Having Lombardozzi in the fold makes it easier for the Orioles to option Schoop and let him play second base every day at Norfolk.

It's a shame that Brad Brach was optioned after being scored upon in only one of his seven appearances, but it's also encouraging that the Orioles have such depth in their bullpen that they could send him down.

Maybe I jinxed Brach yesterday by standing at his locker and asking about his chances of making the club.

"It's gone pretty well," he said. "I feel real good and the results have been pretty good except for the one game. I don't know what's going to happen at the end, but I know that I've put myself in a position to, if I don't break with the team, at one point come up during the year. That's pretty much all I can ask for. I pitched well, I feel good and that's pretty much how you want to leave camp."

I also tossed out the ultimate cliché spring training question. Are you where you want to be at this point in camp?

"Yeah," he replied. "Everybody says that, but it's the truth. This is the best I've felt in the last three years leaving camp, so I'm just really confident with how I'm pitching, and hopefully it can continue once the season starts.

"Spring training's not really my favorite time of the year, just because the last three years it's come down to the last day whether or not I was going to make the team. It's always stressful, because you always want to be up there.

"I understand if I have to start in Triple-A, but I want to be there for opening day and help this team win from the beginning. But it's just one of those things where, you wish you could know what they're thinking, but they can't tip their hand until the last day. It's one of those things where you lose a little bit of sleep, but it's just part of the game."

Now, he knows. Brach will be pitching in Norfolk to start the season.

Brach credits pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti for "a little mechanical adjustment" that produced the favorable results this spring.

"The last few years, I've been creeping more and more across my body, and with Dom and Wally, we fixed the little problem and I'm going right at home plate now. And my velocity has been up the last few games," he said.

"Just a tiny, little thing has made a huge difference so far. And it's the best I've felt probably since 2011. It's one of those things where I'm really excited about it and happy that I was able to make the adjustment, and I'm ready to go for the season."

Get ready to see Brach at Camden Yards in 2014. As Showalter says, it's when, not if.

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