FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Once uncertain whether the Orioles viewed him as a starter or long reliever, left-hander Brian Burres has learned that he will work the back end of the rotation.
Not that he has left the bullpen behind for good.
Burres will be available to pitch in relief during the first two games because Tuesday's open date on the schedule precludes him from starting until April 6. He'll temporarily join Matt Albers, the pitcher he beat out for the fifth spot, as another long man. But unlike Albers, he's assured of facing the Seattle Mariners next weekend.
"It feels good," said Burres, who was 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA, one walk and eight strikeouts in 13 innings. "The roles are set up, and it's nice to know where everybody stands."
Now Burres must hope the rug isn't pulled out from under him. He was on the Opening Night roster last year, flew to Minnesota and found out the Orioles were optioning him to the minors because they needed to bring up catcher Alberto Castillo to replace the injured Ramon Hernandez.
"Last year was a little bit tough," Burres said. "But it's all good. This year will be fun."
Burres and Albers were in a dead heat until the left-hander pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his last start. Albers pitched in relief the next day and allowed three hits and two inherited runners to score in 1 2/3 innings.
Albers retired the first five batters he faced yesterday after replacing starter Daniel Cabrera. But he walked the next two and allowed an RBI single to Marlon Anderson, leaving his spring ERA at 3.86.
"Right now, Burres is a little ahead of Albers," Trembley said.
Mum on Roberts
Anyone looking for more insight from manager Dave Trembley regarding the stalled Brian Roberts trade discussions will have a long wait. He's not going there anymore.
"I will not talk about Roberts and whether or not he's going to get traded or not," Trembley said.
"If you want to keep going on about Roberts, go ahead, but don't ask me anymore. He's the second baseman and the leadoff guy on this club."
Trembley put particular emphasis on fundamentals this spring, which makes what happened again yesterday a lot harder to ignore.
Left fielder Luke Scott dropped two fly balls in the Orioles' 4-3 win over the New York Mets. One ball glanced off his glove in the second inning as he chased it in left-center field. The other hit his glove as he charged Carlos Delgado's shallow fly with the bases loaded in the fifth. Scott threw to third base for the force as the tie-breaking run scored.
"The first ball, he drifted on it," Trembley said. "T-Bone [first base coach John Shelby] addressed that the other day. You've got to run to the spot. You can't try to time it. And then the second one, I thought he peeked and looked up at the runner. So both of them are mistakes, and you can't have that."
In the bottom of the third, Scott singled and moved to third base on Adam Jones' double to left. With no outs, Brandon Fahey sent a pop-up to shallow center field. Jones, assuming the ball was going to drop, broke for third base, but shortstop Jose Reyes made the catch and doubled him off second.
Trembley hung his head from his seat beside the dugout as Jones returned to the bench.
Around the horn
The Orioles outrighted Tike Redman to Triple-A Norfolk after he cleared waivers. He has 72 hours to accept the assignment or opt for free agency. ... Reliever Rocky Cherry went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder.