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Plenty of Oriole roster questions before, during and after doubleheader

There are so many roster possibilities and scenarios ahead of today's doubleheader that it would probably make more sense for me to just let it play out rather than to try and handicap them. However, for the sake of having a blog entry up before I head out to the park for a long day of baseball, I'll try and sum up some of the decisions that manager Buck Showalter and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail may have to make over the next couple of days.

INFIELD

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This is totally dependent on how second baseman Brian Roberts and shortstop J.J. Hardy feel today. Roberts went to the hospital last night because he was dealing with stomach pain, while Hardy was scheduled to miss a second straight game with tightness in his left side. In a perfect world, I think the Orioles, who do have both Cesar Izturis and Robert Andino on the roster, would be fine with holding out Hardy through Monday's offday so he's ready for Tuesday's series opener in New York. However, they may not have the luxury with Roberts ailing as well. The hope obviously is that Roberts is just dealing with a 24-hour stomach virus, which might allow him to play one of the two games today. If it's more serious, the Orioles would obviously have to consider putting their leadoff man on the disabled list and potentially calling up one of their veteran infielders from Triple-A, such as Brendan Harris or Nick Green. If it's a day-to-day thing, like Hardy is dealing with, you could be looking at a double-play combination of Izturis and Andino for both games today. Even if Roberts and Hardy are much improved and available today, the reality is that they probably wouldn't start both games, meaning that Andino could be in line for his first start of the season.

OUTFIELD

With Luke Scott back from his groin issue, there is really not much to be decided here. The guess is that Adam Jones and Nick Markakis will start both games of the doubleheader and Scott and Felix Pie will each start one game each in left field. I doubt Showalter wants Scott, who just returned to the lineup Thursday, playing 18 innings with that sore groin.

CATCHER It's hard to foresee any other scenario but Matt Wieters starting the first game and catching Zach Britton and Jake Fox making his first start this year catching Jake Arrieta in the second game. You'd think that Showalter wants Wieters catching Britton to help the young lefty get through any nerves in his home debut. Also, Britton can be a handful to catch with that hard and darting sinker, and Wieters is the far better defensive option than Fox. Also, if Wieters catches the afternoon game, perhaps Showalter would have him catch Sunday afternoon as well with Monday's offday looming.

STARTING PITCHING

As I mentioned above, Britton is starting in the first game and Arrieta in the second. The interesting question is who starts Sunday's series finale for the Orioles. If Jeremy Guthrie feels fine today after his 40-pitch bullpen Friday, it will likely be him. But the right-hander is less than 72 hours removed from being in the hospital with pneumonia so it wouldn't be the worst thing to push him back perhaps until Tuesday, giving him an extra 48 hours to recoup some energy and strength. However, that would probably require the Orioles making a move to bring in a starter from Triple-A – Chris Jakubauskas is the most likely candidate – and the club has so little roster flexibility now that a move like that may not be feasible unless Guthrie goes to the disabled list to create a spot. Another bi-product of the doubleheader is the Orioles won't be able to skip either Chris Tillman or Brad Bergesen's next start, which would have been doable with Monday's offday had they got in Game One of the series last night. With Britton and Arrieta starting tonight and possibly Guthrie Sunday, the Orioles would have to pitch Bergesen and Tillman Tuesday and Wednesday in New York before going back to either Britton or Arrieta on Thursday. This matters primarily because both Bergesen and Tillman were candidates to be sent down to open up a roster spot if the club needed another arm to boost their taxed bullpen. Now, if either is sent down, the Orioles are going to need to call up another starter to take their place within a couple of days.

BULLPEN

There is obviously a school of thought that last night's rainout was good for the busy relief corps because it gave everybody a day off and it should mean that it's all hands on deck today. However, Showalter was concerned about covering the 18 innings today. This could become a moot point if both Britton and Arrieta pitch six or seven innings, and the bullpen isn't abused too much. However, if Britton is shown an early shower by a potent Rangers lineup in Game One, and Showalter needs the bullpen to cover four or five innings in the afternoon game, the Orioles could make a roster move before the second game to add another reliever. Troy Patton is just a phone call away, but to add him, the Orioles would have to play somebody (Roberts?, Hardy?, Guthrie?) on the disabled list because Patton is on the 40-man roster and he hasn't been down in the minor leagues for the prerequisite 10 days yet. Jakubauskas is not on the 40-man so he could be added without a DL-trip for another player. However, the Orioles would still have to make a roster move to accommodate him, and there are no obvious ones to make.

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