The Orioles made a move Thursday night that likely solved their Opening Day roster logjam — for a few days, anyway.
Right-hander Chris Tillman was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left abdominal strain, retroactive to March 22, the earliest date a transaction can be backdated this spring.
That means Tillman is eligible to come off the DL on April 6 and pitch the fifth game of the season against the Minnesota Twins.
It also means the Orioles have an extra roster spot to play with for the first four days of the season, which likely will allow Rule 5 left-hander T.J. McFarland and infielder Ryan Flaherty — two players who have been on the roster bubble since camp opened — to make the club.
With Wilson Betemit (right knee ligament sprain) also headed to the DL, the Orioles will be able to keep at least one more player until Tillman returns April 6. Infielder-outfielder Steve Pearce probably has the edge over Conor Jackson in that competition.
Although he is on the DL, Tillman will pitch Friday against the State College of Florida in an exhibition game. Because it is not an official Grapefruit League game — and because Tillman has not thrown in one since March 3 — the DL transaction can be backdated to March 22.
Tillman has said he no longer feels any pain in his abdomen and hasn’t for a couple weeks, but because the club took a conservative approach with him, he lags behind other starters in innings logged and pitches thrown this spring.
Jake Arrieta, who was the overwhelming favorite for the open fifth spot in the rotation, is expected to now pitch the fourth game of the season, Friday’s home opener at Camden Yards against the Twins.
That wouldn’t be a departure for Arrieta, who has pitched the Orioles’ home opener each of the previous two years, including the 2012 season opener in which he threw seven scoreless innings in a win against Minnesota.
Manager Buck Showalter, however, has not officially announced who will make that start.
The Orioles likely will begin the season with four players on the disabled list: Tillman, Betemit, Tsuyoshi Wada (elbow) and Steve Johnson (strained lat).
Trayvon Robinson reassigned
Outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who hasn’t played since Sunday because of a left gluteus muscle strain, was reassigned to minor league camp Thursday.
Robinson batted .326 in 43 spring at-bats. He likely will start the season at Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles acquired Robinson in an offseason trade with the Seattle Mariners for infielder Robert Andino, but Robinson was removed from the 40-man roster in February.
The Orioles now have 32 active players in their major league camp, including five non-roster invitees. They must submit their 25-man roster by 3 p.m. Sunday.
Chen makes final tune-up
Lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who will pitch Wednesday in the second game of the regular season, made his final tune-up of the exhibition season Thursday, allowing one run in five innings against a collection of Tampa Bay Rays Triple-A players.
“This was a really good accomplishment. I feel like I accomplished something today,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “The first two innings, I couldn't feel anything, probably because I was pitching in the minor leagues, but after the third inning, I felt like I turned my game around and everything was great.”
Chen threw 82 pitches, walked just one batter, and the only run he yielded was a homer by former major leaguer Brandon Guyer. The minor league lineup included Rays top prospect Wil Myers, former No. 1 pick Tim Beckham and former big leaguer Shelley Duncan.
“I'm ready for the season,” Chen said. “I'm in my best shape and my best condition right now, so everything will be fine and I'm looking forward to the season.”
Right-hander Jair Jurrjens, who took a liner off his side Wednesday night, had an X-ray Thursday that showed no broken bones. After a near sleepless night, Jurrjens said he was still sore Thursday.
He’ll receive treatment on the ribs but doesn’t know when he’ll return to action. He likely will begin the season at Triple-A Norfolk.
Outfielder Chris Dickerson, who injured his right Achilles while tracking down a ball in the gap Wednesday, said he “tweaked it” while attempting to plant his foot and pivot on the soft outfield grass. He was doing full activities Thursday. He also is likely ticketed for Triple-A Norfolk.
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