Gil is released


O's likely to carry just two catchers


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Orioles officially cut ties with Geronimo Gil, releasing the 30-year-old catcher yesterday in a move that likely means that the club will go with only two catchers on the Opening Day 25-man roster.

"Our feeling was that we are going to go with the two catchers, and we feel like we have a suitable backup in [Eli] Whiteside if we decided to go with a third catcher," Orioles vice president Jim Duquette said. "What we are looking to do right now, Gil just didn't fit in our plans."

Gil, acquired in a July 2001 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Trombley, played 272 games with the Orioles over five seasons, posting a career .233 batting average. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo and Duquette didn't rule out re-signing Gil, who was due to make $525,000 this season, to a minor league deal.

"It was real difficult for me, but ... we'd love to have him back," Perlozzo said. "We'll give him some time to think about it. He might end up back with us, I don't know."

Perlozzo had been leaning toward taking a third catcher behind Ramon Hernandez and Javy Lopez for much of the spring, but said that the glut of outfielders the Orioles have in camp made him reconsider.

"It's a numbers game we have right now with the people on our roster," Perlozzo said. "We are talking about our 25 best players. The 25 best players might not mean that you carry a [third] catcher. It's a gamble. If it doesn't work out, then we'll just bring up a catcher."

Kevin Millar would likely be the emergency catcher, though Perlozzo didn't rule out signing another one when players start getting released.

Perlozzo said that the extra roster spot could go to an outfielder. At this point, it appears Luis Matos, Corey Patterson, David Newhan and 22-year-old top prospect Nick Markakis all will make the 25-man roster, which initially wasn't the case.

Decisions draw near

Perlozzo said yesterday that a decision on the final makeup of his roster, including the fate of Markakis, might not be made until Sunday's workout at Camden Yards, a day before the season opener.

"You can take it up [to] there, for sure," Perlozzo said. "We talked about that last night actually. It's not unusual that people try to make the team all the way up to the last day, not to mention somebody can get hurt. The spots we are talking about, we'll just wait till the very end."

Perlozzo said the decision on Markakis, who has been one of the top performers this spring, is a difficult one.

"There is no question that Nick has major league talent, but what do we do with the other guys if we carry all those outfielders, how do we play them?" Perlozzo said. "Is it a big rush if several days later he comes up? Or do we move somebody and move him right in there? There are a bunch of things that can happen and we're sorting through that and talking it out."

Roberts scratched

Less than an hour before yesterday's game, Perlozzo decided to scratch Brian Roberts from the lineup because the All-Star second baseman was feeling sore after taking batting practice.

Roberts, who didn't play in the exhibition season until March 21 after recovering from offseason elbow surgery, had started five straight games for the Orioles, hitting .417. Perlozzo said that he expects Roberts and outfielder Jay Gibbons, who has been out with upper-back stiffness, to be back in the lineup today against the Florida Marlins.

"He's a little beat up," Perlozzo said of Roberts. "He needed a day. That's something we expected. He is way above where we expected."

Around the horn

Third baseman Melvin Mora was given yesterday off to deal with a personal matter. ... The Orioles brought over infielders Gerardo Alvarez and Bryan Bass and outfielders Tony Alvarez and Noah Hall from their minor league camp in Sarasota to give the team some extra players for the final four exhibition games. ... Perlozzo said that he is considering following the lead of his close friend, pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, and getting a tattoo, but he hasn't found a design that appeals to him yet.

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