Gomez's status shaky

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

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March 21, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec and Peter Schmuck | Jeff Zrebiec and Peter Schmuck,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com and peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Orioles infielder Chris Gomez has played 16 seasons in the big leagues and knows not to get too concerned by a prolonged spring training slump. However, he also is acutely aware of his shaky roster status with the club, making his .115 Grapefruit League average a little tougher to swallow.

"That's where it becomes a concern," said Gomez, who went 1-for-2 in the Orioles' 4-0 loss to the New York Mets yesterday and is 3-for-26 this spring. " ... I'm not on the team for sure, so that makes it not very good timing on my part."

Gomez, who was signed to a minor league deal and considered a front-runner for a bench spot, is on the roster bubble a little more than two weeks before Opening Day. If the Orioles keep 13 pitchers, which appears likely because of all the injuries and uncertainty to their staff, Gomez, 37, is the expected odd man out, with Ryan Freel, Ty Wigginton and a backup catcher getting the spots.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he doesn't expect to decide on the matter until one of the final days of camp. However, Gomez's fate will largely depend on Freel's ability to handle the backup shortstop spot - Trembley said he needs a utility man who can play shortstop - and Gomez's performance at the plate the rest of the way.

Six more cuts

The Orioles made another round of roster cuts yesterday, and they were deep enough to include well-regarded prospects Nolan Reimold and Brandon Snyder and last year's backup catcher, Guillermo Quiroz, but not top prospect Matt Wieters.

Reimold, an outfielder who will start the season at Triple-A Norfolk, batted .321 this spring, leads the club with four home runs and is second with eight RBIs.

"I did everything I could," he said.

Quiroz, who played in 56 games for the Orioles last year, was given his outright release, as was pitcher Scott Chiasson, who has a deal with Cancun of the Mexican League. Snyder and shortstop Blake Davis were reassigned to minor league camp. Left-handed reliever Wilfrido Perez was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. That leaves the Orioles with 50 players in camp.

Uehara climbs the hill

Koji Uehara threw 54 pitches in his first bullpen session since suffering a strained hamstring during his March 9 start against the Mets. He said afterward that he felt fine, but could not put a timetable on his next exhibition appearance because he was "not throwing with 100 percent force."

If all goes well, Uehara will throw a simulated game tomorrow.

Around the horn

Staff ace Jeremy Guthrie is tentatively scheduled to return from the World Baseball Classic tomorrow night and pitch for the Orioles on Monday. ... Jim Johnson said he has been slowed by shoulder tendinitis, not an impingement. Johnson played catch yesterday and is hoping to get back onto the mound in about a week. ... Davis had successful surgery to insert a screw into his fractured left foot and will be sidelined from baseball activities for five or six weeks, Trembley said.

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