Uncertainty for Eaton

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Another poor outing casts doubt on last rotation spot

April 03, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Thursday's game shouldn't be considered a tryout for Adam Eaton. Had it been, Eaton probably didn't help his chances of making the rotation.

Facing essentially the New York Mets' Opening Day lineup, Eaton allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks over five innings, raising his spring ERA to 7.29. He needed 94 pitches over that span and was spared further damage when right fielder Oscar Salazar leaped to deny Brian Schneider of a two-run home run in the Mets' four-run fourth inning.

After the Orioles' 9-8 loss that closed their Grapefruit League schedule, Trembley declined to fully endorse Eaton as one of his five starters as he did before the game with Mark Hendrickson, who will join Jeremy Guthrie, Koji Uehara and Alfredo Simon in the Opening Day rotation. Aside from appointing Guthrie and Uehara as his No. 1 and No. 2, Trembley hasn't set the rest of his rotation, though he did say the club won't use the No. 5 starter until April 12 because of Tuesday's day off.

"Let me go in and get a diet soda and ... think about it," Trembley said when asked about whether Eaton definitely had a spot. "I'm not going to tell you that right now."

Eaton, signed by the Orioles to a minor league deal after he was released by the Philadelphia Phillies, has allowed 17 earned runs, 33 hits and eight walks in 21 innings. However, he's a favorite to be included in the rotation simply because there is nobody else still in major league camp who has been stretched out consistently.

"They haven't told me for sure, but all signs obviously point for making the rotation," Eaton said. "I wish I would have made the decision a little bit easier for them, but I know that if the decision is made that I'm on the staff, they're going to be pleased with [it]."

Trembley still has one decision left on the composition of his pitching staff. The Orioles have two spots presumably for three pitchers (Eaton, Brian Bass and Danys Baez), though it's not out of the question that they could send Matt Albers to Triple-A Norfolk, because he has minor league options remaining.

Catcher plan resolved

The Orioles settled their catcher situation by reassigning Robby Hammock to minor league camp, a move that means veteran Chad Moeller will make the club and back up Gregg Zaun.

Zaun returned to the lineup Thursday after missing five games with a sore right elbow. He served as the team's designated hitter and went 0-for-5. However, the important thing happened before the game when Zaun played catch from 120 feet and was pain-free.

He'll get the day off Friday and be behind the plate Saturday in Washington. If all goes well, he'll start Opening Day.

Andino makes debut

It all happened so fast for new Orioles infielder Robert Andino, who was acquired Wednesday from the Florida Marlins for pitcher Hayden Penn.

"I heard some rumors going around, but you never know. Everything happened in a minute," Andino said Thursday. "[The Marlins] told me I was on the team, but not anymore. I'm over here, and I'm an Oriole now. Everything happens for a reason. You can't look back, you have to look forward. I'm excited now."

Andino batted leadoff Thursday and went 2-for-5, though he was assessed two errors.

Scott gets shot at 1st

As he said he would do, Trembley gave Luke Scott a start at first base Thursday and the normal designated hitter-outfielder handled the few chances he got. Scott looked comfortable fielding a grounder and starting a 3-6-1 double play in the first inning against Daniel Murphy. It was his only start at first this spring aside from an intrasquad game.

COMING SUNDAY

The 2009 baseball preview includes a story on the growing relationship between the Orioles' Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts, an analysis of the Orioles' pitching staff and a look at the national baseball picture.

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