NORFOLK, Va. — The Orioles finalized their 25-man roster this afternoon for Friday’s Opening Day, and there was one mild surprise: veteran sidearmer Darren O’Day made the club over lefty reliever Zach Phillips.
Phillips, who had a minor league option remaining, was not around for pre-game player introductions from either side before Wednesday’s exhibition at Harbor Park against the organization’s Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides.
Phillips, 25, allowed just four hits, two walks and two runs in 13 1/3 spring innings, but the Orioles decided to keep just one left-hander in the bullpen – Troy Patton, who was out of options and would have had to clear waivers before he could be sent to Norfolk.
“It’s been a very high anxiety time,” said Patton, 26, who didn’t allow a run in 10 1/3 scoreless Grapefruit League innings, giving up eight hits, four walks and striking out four batters. “But I knew as long as I pitched well this spring, something good would happen. I’d be somewhere pitching, hopefully, and they liked me enough to keep me on the team.”
O’Day, 29, was slowed this spring by a groin injury but pitched well late, giving up three runs (one earned) in six innings during major league games while striking out eight batters.
"I wish I would have never gotten hurt, but it all worked out,” said O’Day, whom the Orioles claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers in November. “I was able to get back on a mound. Maybe it was a blessing, because I got to work with (pitching coach) Rick Adair on some things. It's all coming together at the right time. My last outing, I know it was against a college team, but I felt like I could have gotten anyone out. All the things we worked on came together, and my ball was really moving the way I wanted it to. That's the best I've thrown in two years."
This will be O’Day’s fifth straight season making an Opening Day roster; it will be Patton’s first.
“Being able to experience Opening Day is a dream come true, because that in my mind means you actually made it,” said Patton, whom the Orioles acquired in the 2007 deal that sent Miguel Tejada to Houston. “Whether or not you stay or whatever, if you are there for Opening Day, you are one of the 25 that made it out of camp. And that’s a big milestone with me.”
The Orioles' other moves were more expected. Brian Matusz will make the 25-man roster, as will Nick Johnson and Ronny Paulino. Matusz will start Monday in the season's fourth game of the season, with Wei-Yin Chen starting Tuesday.
Catcher Taylor Teagarden was officially placed on the disabled list.