FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -The Orioles' Opening Day roster competition got a little clearer Tuesday with the demotions of outfielder Lou Montanez, third baseman Scott Moore, and pitchers David Pauley and Radhames Liz.
Liz and Montanez were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, and they'll be joined there by Pauley, who cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Tides. Moore was reassigned to minor league camp, along with reliever Alberto Castillo, catcher Guillermo Rodriguez and infielder Oscar Salazar. The four reassigned players will remain with the club through the rest of the exhibition season.
That leaves the Orioles' spring roster at 29 five days before Opening Day.
"Nothing comes easy in my career. Everything comes hard, and I've had to earn everything. Even when I think I may have an opportunity, it's always more difficult for me than for others," said Montanez, the Double-A Eastern League Triple Crown winner last year who hit .340 this spring but was passed over for Felix Pie, who is out of options. "I think I'm beyond close. It's just that the opportunity isn't there right now."
Liz, who made 17 starts for the Orioles last season, said the news wasn't a surprise. He was used as a reliever this spring and said he'll be used out of the Tides' bullpen.
Roberts still sidelined
Second baseman Brian Roberts was out of the lineup again Tuesday and will not play until Thursday at the earliest because of lingering soreness in his left side. Roberts, who hasn't played since March 22, when the United States was eliminated by Japan from the World Baseball Classic, said he'll be ready for Opening Day regardless of whether he plays in any more exhibition games.
"I'll play Monday if I haven't played at all if I feel fine," Roberts said. "It doesn't matter to me."
It does, however, to manager Dave Trembley, who believes Roberts will get in a game before Opening Day. And he said Roberts won't face CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees if he doesn't.
"I would not feel comfortable," Trembley said. "I don't think that would be fair to him or to the team if he does not play prior to April 6, but I don't anticipate that occurring."
Roberts has hit off a tee and taken long toss, and he fielded ground balls Tuesday. He's scheduled to take batting practice Wednesday.
Uehara, it is
Trembley confirmed what everybody has known for about six weeks: Koji Uehara will follow Opening Day pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and start the second regular-season game against the Yankees next Wednesday.
"He's the guy on line, and he's the best available guy that we have," Trembley said. "He's a guy with experience, proven success. That's why we signed him - to put him at the top of the rotation with Guthrie."
Gregg Zaun, who received a cortisone shot in his right elbow, is scheduled to be the designated hitter in the final Grapefruit League exhibition game Thursday, then start behind the plate against the Washington Nationals on Friday at Norfolk.
Utility player Ryan Freel was a scratch from Tuesday's lineup because of dehydration.
Monday, 4:05 p.m.
TV: Ch. 13, MASN
Radio: 105.7 FM