FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Before Tuesday’s game, the Orioles reassigned outfielder Lew Ford to minor league camp, cutting the spring roster to 37 players, which included nine non-roster invitees.
After Monday’s injury to designated hitter Wilson Betemit, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that “some of the dynamics changed” in forming the 25-man Opening Day roster.
That means that when whittling down the mix of reserve players, players who can play first base as well as outfield have a better chance of making the team, because Betemit could have served as a backup first baseman.
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That bodes well for players like Steve Pearce and Conor Jackson, who have played both outfield and first this spring. While Ford can patrol all three outfield positions, he doesn’t play first.
Ford had a solid spring, going 15-for-37 for a .405 batting average with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs in 17 games.
Also of note as the Orioles’ final road minor league game gets underway:
--The Orioles are still uncertain whether to place right-hander Chris Tillman on the disabled list to open the season or put him on the Opening Day roster. While Tillman is getting better from abdominal soreness that scratched him from a start on March 9, the Orioles could easily backdate him on the DL because he hasn’t played in a Grapefruit League game since March 3.
-- Steve Johnson, who has been dealing with some lower back discomfort, is uncertain for his scheduled start on Thursday. He was originally slared to pitch Wednesday but moved back a day and replaced by Jair Jurrjens.
With both Tillman and Johnson ailing, it sets up available spots for both Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz to make the Opening Day rotation.
-- Showalter said if Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland makes the team out of camp it will be as a reliever who can pitch multiple innings.
-- Right-hander Kevin Gausman, who is starting today, is slated to go four to five innings today.
-- Relievers Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day will be pitching at the minor league complex today so they can pitch on back to back days.
-- Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is slated to start Saturday’s Grapefruit League finale against the Mets.
-- While left-hander Mark Hendrickson technically remains in the mix for a relief spot, it’s likely that he would head down to the minors, possibly even to Double-A Bowie to keep him close to his York, Pa., home.