FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles are not likely to make the final roster cuts of the spring until Sunday, but the makeup of the 25-player Opening Day roster shouldn't be hard to figure out.
Manager Frank Robinson has indicated that he will start the season with a nine-man pitching staff, which leaves room for 16 position players and gives him maximum roster flexibility at the time he needs it most.
There are 29 players left on the major-league traveling squad, and two of them -- pitchers Roy Smith and Paul Kilgus -- are almost certain to open the season with the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings. That leaves two players to cut, and one of them will get a six-day reprieve if the club puts pitcher Ben McDonald on the disabled list.
Third baseman Leo Gomez figures to be one of the odd men out, even though he has had a terrific season at the plate. He had to take third base away from incumbent Craig Worthington, and Worthington has done nothing to play himself out of a job.
The final roster spot may come down to veteran catcher Ernie Whitt or promising outfielder/first baseman David Segui, which doesn't bode well for Segui. The Orioles don't want him sitting on the bench in the major leagues when he could be playing every day at the Class AAA level.
* Utility infielder Juan Bell and reliever J.J. Bautista are out of options, so they have to make the team or be sent through waivers. But both performed well enough this spring to earn a place on the team regardless of their contract situations.
Bell, who has played in more exhibition games than any other Oriole, entered last night's game batting .326 in 23 games. Bautista leads the pitching staff in appearances with nine and has a 2-0 record with an ERA of 0.71 (one earned run in 12 2/3 innings).
* The Orioles ended their Florida spring training schedule last night with a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees in Fort Lauderdale. The win gave the Orioles a 14-14-1 exhibition record with two games left at RFK Stadium this weekend.
Worthington drove in all of the Orioles' runs, two on a home run in the second inning. Jose Mesa pitched the first seven innings, allowing eight hits and one run, and got the win to go 2-0 this spring.
* Orioles general manager Roland Hemond was saddened to learn of the death of longtime baseball executive John Mullen, former vice president of the Atlanta Braves.
Hemond was scheduled to have dinner with Mullen on Wednesday night, but felt fortunate that he got a chance to visit with him Monday. Mullen was found dead Wednesday.
"We were in West Palm Beach, and I stopped by to see him," Hemond said. "I'm glad I was able to spend a few minutes with him. He was a very close friend. He brought me to the major leagues."
* The Opening Day pitching matchup at Memorial Stadium pits a couple of former Stanford classmates against each other for the first time. Jeff Ballard and Chicago White Sox right-hander Jack McDowell are the two winningest pitchers in Stanford history. Ballard holds the record with 37 victories. McDowell won 35, but holds the school strikeout record with 337. They were teammates in 1985 along with former Oriole Pete Stanicek.
* Jeff McKnight and Luis Mercedes were optioned to Rochester but will remain with the club for the weekend series.