The Orioles finalized their 25-man roster Wednesday for Friday's season opener against the Minnesota Twins, and there was one mild surprise: veteran sidearmer Darren O'Day and left-hander Troy Patton made the bullpen over lefty Zach Phillips.
The 25-year-old Phillips, who allowed just four hits, two walks and two runs in 131/3 innings this spring, had a minor league option left, unlike Patton.
"It's tough. He pitched well enough to make our club," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Phillips. "It just didn't fit right now, but he'll impact our club this year. But the good point, we're sending some good pitchers down to Norfolk this year."
The decision leaves the Orioles with just one left-handed reliever, but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that shouldn't be a problem.
"We've tried to build the bullpen so that our pitchers can get out both right- and left-handed hitters," Duquette said. "And we have a number of pitchers in the 'pen that are capable of doing just that."
Patton, 26, might also have to serve as a long reliever if needed. But at this point, he doesn't care what his role is.
"It's been a very high-anxiety time," said Patton, who didn't allow a run in 10 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, giving up eight hits and 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 strained groin 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. "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."
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 the Houston Astros. "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 final moves were expected. Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada (elbow impingement) was placed on the disabled list retroactive to March 28, and catcher Taylor Teagarden (back strain) was put on the DL retroactive to March 26.
The club also purchased the contracts of first baseman-designated hitter Nick Johnson and reserve catcher Ronny Paulino.
Orioles set rotation
The three right-handers will be followed by lefty Brian Matusz, who will start Monday at Camden Yards against the Yankees, and lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who will pitch the club's fifth game, against New York on Tuesday.
Chen was once thought to be a candidate for the second spot, but Showalter said he wanted the Taiwanese rookie, who had spent the past four seasons playing in Japan, to get a little more acclimated before his first start.
"I'm trying to get Chen some more time, trying to manage his innings," Showalter said. "It's his first time in a five-man rotation, [we're] trying to pick our spots with him."
Showalter said it's not by design that his two lefties will be facing the lefty-heavy Yankees lineup next week.
"They've got some real good hitters, period," Showalter said about the Yankees. "It doesn't matter if we throw with both arms. It just stacks up better for everybody's needs."