Millwood officially named O's Opening Day starter

March 29, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec | Baltimore Sun reporter

SARASOTA, Fla. — Orioles manager Dave Trembley on Monday confirmed what was widely assumed for months, officially naming veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood his Opening Day starter for next Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The unveiling of the 2010 rotation, however, will have to wait until today, when it is expected that Trembley will announce that Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and David Hernandez will follow Millwood in the rotation, in that order.

Trembley conceded that the fifth spot is down to Hernandez and Chris Tillman, but multiple team sources have confirmed the past couple of days that Hernandez has moved ahead of Tillman because of his strong spring. Team officials met Monday to discuss the composition of the Opening Day roster, and unless something changes overnight, Tillman is expected to start the season in Triple-A.

"In my mind, I have a real good idea what's going to happen," said Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz, declining to get into specifics.

The Orioles essentially said Millwood would be their top starter on Dec. 9, when they acquired the veteran from the Texas Rangers for reliever Chris Ray.

It will be Millwood's seventh Opening Day start, four coming for Texas and two with the Philadelphia Phillies.

"It's definitely an honor to be named the Opening Day starter," Millwood said. "I don't know that it says you are better than anybody else, but it's definitely a big deal for a team to name you that."

Matusz strong in tuneup

The Orioles wanted Matusz to throw nearly 100 pitches in a minor league intrasquad game Monday, but that became difficult when he wouldn't allow any base runners. So Kranitz had to place runners on base to force Matusz to pitch from the stretch and extend some innings to five outs to make sure the left-hander pushed his pitch count to 92.

Not wanting the New York Yankees to get too much of a look at Matusz so close to the season, the Orioles had scheduled him to pitch in a minor league game against the Boston Red Sox's Triple-A team. That game was rained out, so Matusz faced the Orioles' Double-A team.

"It was great," said Matusz, who pitched eight innings, allowing just one run and one hit and facing the minimum number of batters before Billy Rowell's eighth-inning homer. "I accomplished everything I wanted to work on today."

Pie for opener?

Trembley sent out a lineup Monday night against the Yankees that is expected to be very similar to the one he uses Opening Day. However, one big difference will likely be that Felix Pie is starting in left field rather than Nolan Reimold.

Trembley stopped short of saying that officially Monday, and Reimold said he expects to be the Opening Day left fielder. However, the Orioles manager gave off plenty of hints that might not be the case.

Asked whether Monday night's lineup could be the Opening Day one, Trembley said: "Is Pie in there today? Next question."

He then elaborated slightly, saying: "I think today's lineup is close. I'm not so sure the order is the same. I just gave you an answer on one guy I think may have a shot to be there on Opening Day."

Around the horn

Former Orioles Eddie Murray, Mike Boddicker, Brady Anderson and Ben McDonald, hired this month by the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network to be part of the Orioles' broadcast team, visited camp Monday and joined Monday night's telecast. ... Closer Mike Gonzalez is scheduled to throw today and Wednesday. ... Second baseman Brian Roberts will play again today, if there's no lingering soreness from his second spring start Monday night.

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