ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The proximity of the Orioles' minor league complex in Sarasota to Tropicana Field gave several injured players an opportunity to show team officials how much they've progressed.
And for reliever Chris Ray, being back with his teammates gave him even more motivation on the road back from elbow ligament reconstruction surgery in August.
"I think it's a nice relief this year that our bullpen's performing the way they are," said Ray, who was the Orioles' closer before being shut down last season. "I've still got a long walk back. I'm just taking it one day at a time right now. If I ever run into some kind of trouble, we'll take a few days off and keep going. But so far, it's been pretty good."
Ray threw long toss before yesterday's game in front of team officials, including pitching coach Rick Kranitz. That included making 30 throws at 150 feet, the maximum distance in his throwing program. He's scheduled to start pitching from flat ground early next month and get back on the mound about two weeks later. Ray maintains he'll pitch for the Orioles this season, a goal the club feels is attainable.
Fellow reliever Fernando Cabrera, who had offseason elbow surgery, threw 35 pitches from the mound yesterday, though he has yet to resume throwing his slider. Team officials are hopeful he could be ready to return to the big leagues by early June.
Freddie Bynum (knee surgery) also was at Tropicana Field, though he didn't work out. He said he feels 100 percent healthy and is ready to play in extended spring training games Monday.
The doubleheader Thursday has forced Trembley and Kranitz to find a starting pitcher against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, the beginning of a seven-game homestand.
It appears the club is leaning toward Matt Albers, who has pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen this season.
Trembley said Steve Trachsel and Adam Loewen, who were the starters in the doubleheader, won't be asked to pitch on three days' rest and instead will start Tuesday and Wednesday. Loewen will get the extra day between starts.
That basically means that it will be Albers or a member of Triple-A Norfolk's rotation. Garrett Olson appears to be the most likely candidate to be called up, and Monday would be his next turn to pitch. In his last outing for Norfolk, Olson pitched six scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 0.90 in two starts.
Daniel Cabrera has been doing experimentation in his bullpen sessions that could result in a different look when he faces the Rays tonight. However, Trembley isn't tipping his hand on what those changes are.
"Why would I want to tell the Rays that?" he said. "But, yes, we have been working on something to add to his repertoire."
The Orioles announced after last night's loss that they have recalled right-hander Jim Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk. He likely will pitch out of the bullpen.
Johnson, 24, allowed one earned run in four innings in his only start for Norfolk this year.
To make room on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned infielder Scott Moore to Norfolk. He was 1-for-8 with a solo home run in four games for the Orioles.