Orioles manager Dave Trembley was going to start backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz tonight with left-hander Adam Loewen on the mound, but those plans might have changed.
"I don't know if I'll be able to keep my promise and catch Quiroz," Trembley said, grinning, "so don't hold me to that."
Otherwise, Trembley appears set to go ahead with a plan he revealed late in spring training. He likes the pace that Quiroz establishes in a game and wants to pair him with Loewen, who made six starts last year before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a fracture in his left elbow.
"I'd like to start that way and see how it develops," Trembley said earlier in the day. "I don't want to get caught into saying that that's the way its going to be from now until the end of the season, but I'd like to start with that approach and see where it takes us.
"That assures the fact that I'm not going to kill Ramon and have him catch 162 games, which I think is rather far-fetched."
Quiroz, who signed as a minor league free agent in December, caught Loewen twice in spring training and noticed a bond developing. Most important, so did Trembley.
"I just try to keep him going," Quiroz said. "I like being happy back there. I like talking a lot and motivating the guys when they're out there. And when I put the signs down, for some reason, a lot of pitchers seem to like it. I just kind of read the swings on the hitters and we go by that.
"Anybody who goes out there with me, I try to make them feel as comfortable as possible. That's my job as a catcher. And we had a good chemistry when we were out on the field, and [Trembley] is basing it on that."
With Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays postponed because of rain, left-hander Brian Burres isn't scheduled to make his first start until Tuesday in Texas.
Opening Day starter Jeremy Guthrie has been pushed back to tomorrow, followed by Daniel Cabrera. Burres, who beat out Matt Albers for the fifth starter's job, is expected to be available in relief through tonight's game.
The Single-A Frederick Keys began their season last night without pitcher Tim Bascom, a fourth-round pick in last year's draft who was bothered in spring training by back spasms.
Bascom is expected to be activated from the disabled list in a week.
"He just needed more time," said David Stockstill, director of minor league operations. "Sometimes we're pretty careful with guys this time of the year, with the cold and damp weather. He's fine."
The exhibition schedule prepared Rule 5 pick Randor Bierd in ways that he didn't expect would impact his major league debut.
Bierd entered Wednesday night's game in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. He returned to the dugout with only one run scoring, on a double-play grounder.
"In spring training, I threw a lot of times in that situation," he said. "I was a little bit nervous, but I'm doing good."
Bierd, who tossed a scoreless sixth, received plenty of encouragement before leaving the bullpen.
"Everybody said, 'You can do it, you can do the job,'" Bierd said. "They pray for me, because there are other guys with more experience than me. They're thinking I'm not going in in that situation."