Solving roster equation is taking O's down to wire

Orioles Notebook

Club to say today whether it'll keep 13 pitchers and just three reserves

Orioles Notebook

April 01, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

WASHINGTON -- Squeezing every minute out of the time allotted for setting their roster, the Orioles will wait until today's workout at Camden Yards to announce whether they'll take 13 pitchers to Minnesota and keep only three reserves, and which player will represent the 25th man.

Unless they can trade reliever Todd Williams, the Orioles seem intent on keeping eight relievers, including left-hander John Parrish, who has a minor league option remaining but also rates as one of the biggest surprises this spring. They are expected to option left-hander Brian Burres to Triple-A Norfolk today.

Infielder Chris Gomez and backup catcher Paul Bako would make up two-thirds of the bench, and Freddie Bynum has the inside track on the remaining utility job if outfielder Jay Payton goes on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, and the team doesn't go outside the organization.

"There's always something that could come up that might work into our plans a little better than what we have, but as of right now, I'm going to assume we're just going to worry about inside," manager Sam Perlozzo said.

Bynum has struggled at the plate, but he singled twice and drove in a run after replacing shortstop Miguel Tejada in yesterday's 6-3 victory over the Washington Nationals, making him 9-for-50 (.180) in exhibition games.

Payton hasn't been able to run since straining his left hamstring. He would be eligible to come off the disabled list April 10.

"He'd have to be out there doing a little running for us if he was to give it a shot," Perlozzo said, "and I haven't seen that."

A `W' from his B game

One sign of a young pitcher's maturation is his ability to get crucial outs when he doesn't have his best stuff. For Orioles left-hander Adam Loewen, that meant laying off a fastball that wouldn't cooperate and relying more on his head.

Loewen threw 28 pitches in the first inning, allowing two singles, walking two and falling behind 1-0 on Bako's passed ball. But he retired seven of the last eight batters he faced in his final exhibition start, in part by using his curveball early in counts, getting outs with his slider and resisting the urge to throw the ball past hitters.

"My fastball wasn't where I wanted it to be today, but it was one of those games where I had to battle through some things and maybe use some pitches that I wouldn't have when my fastball's been on in the past," said Loewen, who posted a 1.64 ERA this spring. "It was a little bit of a test today. I had three walks, which isn't that great, but I minimized the damage and made them put it in play. I was still aggressive, but the ball really wasn't going where I wanted it to."

Said Perlozzo: "It was a tuneup start and I'm sure he had other things on his mind, but he went out and still got it done. It looks like he's ready to go."

Ready to go

The Orioles don't seem to mind the six road games before their April 9 home opener.

"You've got to play 81 on the road. You've got to play them at some point and time," Perlozzo said.

"There's nothing we can do. Sooner or later, you've got to get to everybody. We'll make the best of it, and hopefully we can have a good road trip."

Said Tejada: "Everybody's ready to go."

Loewen has no qualms about venturing into the Bronx to face the New York Yankees on Friday. He made four starts against them last season and went 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA.

"It's a pretty fun park to pitch in, and to have it be my very first start is exciting for me," he said. "I'll have a lot of adrenaline. It'll just be whether I can control that or not, and I think I have a good game plan for pitching in that atmosphere."

Setback for Dubois

Jason Dubois' season will start a little later in Norfolk because of a strained right hamstring.

Dubois, expected to be among today's roster cuts, was injured running out a ground ball in the eighth inning of Friday's game. He could miss at least two weeks if it's slow to heal.

"It's better, but it's still kind of tender," he said.

Though his .293 average ranked among the Orioles' spring leaders, Dubois wasn't expected to make the club as an extra outfielder over Bynum because he doesn't play center. But the Tides open their season Thursday - probably too soon for Dubois to play.

"It's pretty bad timing," he said, "but it's better to miss a week or so now instead of later in the year."

Around the horn

The Orioles finished 16-13 in exhibition games. They began the day percentage points behind the Boston Red Sox for first place among American League East teams. ... Steve Trachsel replaced Loewen and allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings. He walked two. ... Jamie Walker retired the side in the ninth for his first save.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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