SARASOTA, Fla. — After the Orioles optioned right-hander Chris Tillman to Triple-A Norfolk, the pitching staff the Orioles will bring north for Opening Day is beginning to take shape.
There are 15 pitchers for 12 spots. The Orioles will bring 13 position players to Baltimore.
The starting rotation looks clear: Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel are locks. And left-hander Brian Matusz is the likely No. 5 starter, barring a surge from lefty Tsuyoshi Wada. Otherwise, Wada looks like he could open the season as a DL candidate and stay in Florida to continue his adapting to the big leagues.
As for the bullpen, the Orioles have five righthanders who are locks at this point: Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, Pedro Strop and Luis Ayala. Lindstrom has had some health issues and Gregg is making his first major league game appearance in a week today.
That leaves a couple bullpen choices for the Orioles. Two right-handed sidearmers, Darren O' Dayand Pat Neshek are still here, but both could be easily sent down to Norfolk. There are two lefties remaining, Troy Patton and Zach Phillips. Patton has no options remaining and Phillips has far better numbers against lefties. Both could conceivably make the team, with one being stretched into a long-relief role. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that several pitchers could see long-relief duty in certain situations.
Regardless, it appears that the staff might not be completed until the 11th hour, possibly when the rosters must be sent on Wednesday at 5 p.m.