Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said Tuesday that Hayden Penn has been ruled out of consideration for the starting rotation, and he also said that the Orioles are now considering Brian Bass more as a reliever. So if you’re scoring at home, that leaves Alfredo Simon, Adam Eaton and Mark Hendrickson to likely flesh out the last three spots.
Trembley admitted that Simon is in, but he waffled a bit on Hendrickson Tuesday. He also said that barring an injury, Brad Bergesen is set to start the year at Triple-A Norfolk. Of course, the staff may change during the season, but for now, it appears to be set.
The Orioles may still be keeping the back-end of their rotation secret, but they disclosed the front part on Tuesday. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said that Koji Uehara would start the second game of the season, slotting right in behind staff ace Jeremy Guthrie.
“He’s the best available guy we have,” said Trembley. ”He’s a guy with experience, proven success and that’s why we signed him — to put him at the top of the rotation with Guthrie.”
Baltimore is still sorting between back-end options, but Alfredo Simon is believed to have separated himself from the pack. Mark Hendrickson is also expected to fill a starting slot, leaving Brian Bass and Hayden Penn to compete for one spot.
The grounds crew at Fort Lauderdale Stadium had a rough day Sunday, thanks to a stubborn tarp and a torrential south Florida rainstorm.
The game started in a steady downpour that only increased by the bottom half of the first inning, leading the crew to run out and apply a drying agent to the pitcher’s mound. The rain just kept coming down, though, causing the managers to pull their players off the field.
And that’s when the comedy began. The grounds crew was able to get the tarp pulled over the back of the infield before they met sticky resistance. Then, for minutes on end, they engaged in a tug-of-war with themselves — and weren’t able to win.
Mets coach Sandy Alomar Jr. finally suggested that they re-roll the tarp into left field and try again, and this time, they were able to cover the infield without incident. Just 10 minutes had passed, but that was 10 mintues of driving rain on a fragile dirt surface.
The Orioles made a few expected moves Sunday, when they reassigned Matt Wieters to their Minor League camp in Sarasota and placed Rich Hill on the disabled list with a strained left elbow. Baltimore also optioned right-hander Jim Miller to Triple-A Norfolk.
The Wieters and the Hill news have been reported in recent days, and Miller’s option was a matter of time because he hasn’t been healthy enough to pitch for all of spring.
The Orioles had another distressing performance from a rotation candidate Saturday, when Adam Eaton allowed five earned runs in five innings of work. Baltimore’s starters have allowed at least five runs in each of their last three games — with starts by Jeremy Guthrie and Hayden Penn included — and they’ve racked up a 9.21 ERA in their last nine outings.
Baltimore has just two assured rotation slots — those belonging to Guthrie and free agent acquisition Koji Uehara — and is attempting to fill the other three from a pool of five candidates. The decision isn’t getting any easier, though, and will likely go down to the wire.
Starting catcher Gregg Zaun got shelved on Saturday with a sore throwing elbow but said that it’s just a minor problem that won’t affect him in the long haul.
Zaun, who played back-to-back games lately, said that his elbow began to bother him after conducting extra throwing drills recently. Manager Dave Trembley elected to sit him down instead of risking further injury, giving the start to top prospect Matt Wieters instead. Wieters, who is scheduled to leave the team on Sunday, singled and scored in Zaun’s absence.
Luke Scott flexed his muscles Friday, when he went deep for two home runs against the Marlins. Scott had also hit two home runs in Baltimore’s intrasquad game on Wednesday, showing why at least one teammate considers him “man-strong.”
Scott drilled 23 home runs last season for the Orioles and appears to be in line to start as the team’s designated hitter for much of 2009. And if Baltimore manager Dave Trembley is correct, Scott is just beginning to reach the height of his streaky powers.
“He’s locked in,” said Trembley. ”About a week ago, he was one of the last guys in the clubhouse and he came in and said, ‘You’ve seen me for as long as anybody, what do you think? Am I getting close?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll tell you when I know you’re locked in is when you start hitting the ball to left center and hit the ball hard to left center. That’s when I know you’re right on.’ The next day, I think, that’s when it started.
“The guy is as strong as an ox. He can let the ball get deep and like any other good hitter, it’s confidence and rhythm. Right now, he’s got both going for him.”
Brian Roberts was held out of Saturday’s game due to a respiratory illness, the same ailment that caused him to be a late scratch on Friday. Still, despite the persistent illness, manager Dave Trembley expects that Roberts will be just fine by Opening Day.
“When he went to Team USA, he played three or four days in a row and played nine innings each time,” said Trembley. “I don’t think that’s a problem there.”
John Parrish was diagnosed with a small tear in his pitching shoulder and won’t be able to pitch this season. The southpaw was slowed by a shoulder ailment early in spring and never shook it, and the extent of the damage was recently found during an MRI exam.
Parrish, who was initially considered a candidate for the starting rotation, faces a long road of rest and rehabilitation before he can step out on the pitcher’s mound again.
George Sherrill had another rough spring outing on Thursday and said he wouldn’t be surprised or dismayed if the Orioles elected to re-think his role. Sherrill was named closer early in camp in an effort to take some pressure off former relief ace Chris Ray, who is coming off an entire season missed due to surgery on his right elbow.
And while Ray has thrived, Sherrill has had a typically slow spring. With that in mind, the southpaw was asked if he’d understand if the Orioles made a change in plans.
“For sure. He’s doing good this spring,” Sherrill said of Ray. ”If that’s something they want to do, they’re going to do it. All I want to do is win, no matter what my title is.”
Sherrill, who has been scored upon in three straight outings, said that his spring statistics are part of a larger trend that has been with him for much of his career.
“Up until last year, I’ve had to make a team every year. I’ve never really helped my cause,” said Sherrill. “There was probably one year, in ’06, where it went down to the wire. I ended up making the club, but I had like a 14.00 [ERA]. Obviously, I want to be better but it’s just a matter of going out there and getting it done.”