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Zrebiec: Opportunity still knocks in rotation

It is widely assumed that the Orioles rotation is set with veterans Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie joining youngsters Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman. However, pitching coach Rick Kranitz was adamant on Thursday that David Hernandez and Jason Berken will be given every opportunity to crack the rotation.

The two second-year pitchers, who combined to make 43 starts last year, are taking the mindset that if they perform well, things will fall into place, and both would be more than happy to pitch out of the bullpen.

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"For me, I don't really look at it as there are no spots. I just go out and control what I can control and the rest will take care of itself," said Hernandez who went 4-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 20 outings (19 starts). "I kind of figure that they'll give me a chance to show what I can do with starting at the beginning. But if that doesn't work out, there are plenty of other spots in the bullpen."

Berken, who went 6-12 with a 6.54 ERA in 24 starts in 2009, said, "Whatever they want me to do, I'll do. As of right now, I'm focused on starting, but if it does end up being in the bullpen, then that's what it is. But anything I can do to help, I'm more than willing to do. I feel like I'm capable of doing both things."

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As for the position players, they don't have to report to spring training until Monday. However, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Felix Pie, Justin Turner, Scott Moore, Robert Andino, Blake Davis and Rhyne Hughes are already here. Markakis is still sporting his lumberjack beard and carried his son Taylor out to the back practice fields.

-- Jeff Zrebiec

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