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The Final Four Orioles¿ roster style

The Orioles' roster has to be set in preparation for Opening Day by Thursday afternoon, giving manager Buck Showalter and his coaching staff about four more days to evaluate their options. There will likely be another round of roster cuts today, though I would be surprised if it takes the roster all the way down to the 25-man limit. I'd suspect a couple of decisions could go down to the very last day.

There are currently 37 players still in big league camp, but the way I see it, there are probably 31 players competing for 25 spots. You can take off starting pitcher Justin Duchscherer, who will start the season on the disabled list. I also think it's pretty obvious that pitchers Rick VandenHurk and Ryan Drese, infielders Nick Green and Brendan Harris, and outfielder Randy Winn are not making this club. That gets you down to 31 if you eliminate those names.

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This is what you're left with:

Infielders (6): Robert Andino, J.J. Hardy, Cesar Izturis, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Brian Roberts.

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Outfielders (5): Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Felix Pie, Nolan Reimold, Luke Scott.

Designated hitter (1): Vladimir Guerrero.

Catchers (3): Jake Fox, Craig Tatum, Matt Wieters.

Starters (6): Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Zach Britton, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman.

Relievers (10): Jeremy Accardo, Jason Berken, Michael Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, Mark Hendrickson, Jim Johnson, Clay Rapada, David Riske, Josh Rupe, Koji Uehara.

Obviously, it's extremely unlikely that all five of those outfielders make the club. Barring a trade, the assumption is that Pie stays and Reimold goes because Reimold has an option left on his contract. Then, the final decision for the position players would depend on whether the Orioles carry a third catcher (I'd have to think Fox has secured a spot on the team and Tatum is in the most jeopardy) or an extra infielder (Robert Andino) or both. They'd have the luxury of carrying a five-man bench with the decision to go with only four starters until April 10.

Now to the starters, Arrieta, Guthrie and Matusz are locks, and it appears that if Bergesen is able to pitch Tuesday or Wednesday and looks decent and healthy, he'd be the fourth. That would mean Tillman and Britton, who would be on the Opening Day roster if not for his contract situation, start in Triple-A.

The bullpen is where the toughest decisions will have to be made. The first one is will the Orioles carry seven or eight relievers? After that, Gregg, Uehara (assuming he's healthy), Johnson and Gonzalez will occupy four spots. The feeling is that Accardo who can pitch multi innings and has had a nice spring is also in good shape. If those five are on, that leaves the five other pitchers – Berken, Hendrickson, Rapada, Rupe and Riske – competing for either two or three spots. Rupe, who hasn't given up an earned run this spring, and Berken are the clear frontrunners from that group. Riske is probably in the worst position, but he's pitched well at times and Showalter and pitching coach Mark Connor like him.

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