Meredith making strong case for bullpen spot

Notebook

Right-hander pitches another scoreless inning

he, Albers are leading candidates

March 17, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec | jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

SARASOTA, Fla. — Cla Meredith is taking the decision out of manager Dave Trembley's hands.

Needing a good spring to make the Opening Day roster, the Orioles' right-handed reliever has been flawless. He pitched another scoreless inning in the Orioles' 4-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Ed Smith Stadium on Wednesday, and he has not allowed a base runner in his six outings spanning five innings.

"He's gotten both left- and right-handed hitters out," Trembley said. "For the most part, he's kept his pitches down, and by down, I mean the count, not the location. He does locate down. He's had a very good spring for us so far."

With Mike Gonzalez at closer, Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara entrenched as right-handed setup men, Mark Hendrickson as the long man and Will Ohman and Alberto Castillo battling for the situational lefty spot, it appears that Meredith, Matt Albers, Kam Mickolio and Dennis Sarfate are battling for the two remaining openings.

Meredith and Albers have clearly emerged as the front-runners. Albers has given up only three hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Mickolio pitched Wednesday and allowed one earned run on two hits and three walks in two innings, leaving his spring ERA at 3.00.

Sarfate, meanwhile, has fallen behind in the competition, surrendering three earned runs on five hits and two walks over five innings. "There are some dogfights going on down there in the bullpen," Trembley said. "They know it, and they're pitching like they know it."

Roberts' status still uncertain

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will have to wait at least another day before determining whether he'll be able to resume baseball activities. Roberts had an epidural injection Monday to alleviate discomfort from the herniated disk in his back.

"I'm just waiting for a day or two to see what the results are," he said. "It's not a whole lot different yet. They said it would take 48 to 72 hours to settle in."

Roberts acknowledged that he's frustrated he hasn't been able to get into a game yet, but he's still optimistic that he'll be ready for Opening Day.

"You work all winter and you come here and you want to get out there and play and be with the guys," he said. "It gets old sitting in the training room, and it gets old not playing. I have my moments where I'm frustrated, but my most important goal is still April 6."

More injury updates

Gonzalez, who hasn't pitched in a Grapefruit League game since March 8 because of back tightness, was expected to pitch Wednesday but opted to throw a bullpen session instead. Gonzalez said he feels much better and should be able to pitch one inning Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater.

Outfielder Felix Pie (sore left shoulder) threw and hit again Wednesday and is on track to return to the Orioles' lineup Saturday.

Around the horn

Trembley wants to get through Saturday's split-squad games before making another round of cuts. ... Catcher Matt Wieters will catch a full nine innings either Saturday or Sunday. ... Third baseman Miguel Tejada went 0-for-3 on Wednesday and is now 3-for-20 this spring, though Trembley thought he played his best third base of the spring. ... Outfielder Nolan Reimold was 0-for-3 and is now 0-for-15. ... Pitching prospect Jake Arrieta threw two scoreless innings, striking out four. ... The Moyer foundation, founded by former Oriole and current Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen, will hold a donation drive for the relief efforts in Haiti before the Orioles-Phillies game Friday in Clearwater. ... Former Orioles outfielder Al Bumbry will serve as a guest instructor at the Ripken Academy Spring Break Camp, held April 1-3, 2010, at the Ripken Baseball Academy in Aberdeen. For more information, call 888-RIPKEN1 or register online at ripkencamps.com.

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