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Several factors go into Orioles' difficult roster decisions

By Eduardo A. Encina

The Baltimore Sun

2:37 PM EDT, August 19, 2012

DETROIT

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The Orioles will have some tough roster decisions to make as they head to Texas for the second half of their two-city, six-game road trip.

The O's will have an off day Thursday, but between now and then, they will have to ensure that their bullpen stays fresh while playing with a short bench.

The Orioles are currently holding 13 pitchers, with right-hander Steve Johnson working as the long-relief man. That gives the team just three bench players.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has many options to consider, among them what to do if first baseman Mark Reynolds is suspended for what happened Friday on and off the field when he was ejected from the game and lambasted umpires in postgame.

"We will see," Showalter said. "Quite frankly we kind of wait and see what our needs are if there’s any repercussions for the day before yesterday. Every day you have to adjust things so we go day to day and see how we best present ourselves."

Showalter said the Orioles have options at first, including putting Chris Davis there.

With the Orioles heading to Texas, where the Rangers lead the majors in team batting average (.275) and RBIs (574), their pitching will be tested, so Showalter liked having the length in the bullpen. And he's determined to do everything he can to not tire out his key arms.

That's where Johnson comes in, but if he has to pitch Sunday's series finale against the Tigers, the Orioles might have to send him down to add anothe rlong relief arm.

The Orioles will likely keep Zach Britton with the major league club after he threw seven shutout innings on Saturday night, but how the team will handle Thursday's off day -- if they go to a five-man rotation and simply push each starter back a day -- is unclear.