Is Hennessey's start a hint?

The Baltimore Sun

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -Nonroster pitcher Brad Hennessey is not reading too much into his starting assignment in the first exhibition game of the Grapefruit League season, but that doesn't mean there isn't much to read into.

"It's spring training," he said. "I guess you just try go to with it. Not a big deal."

That's probably the best way to approach your spring debut, but it actually might be a big deal. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz didn't downplay the significance of the former San Francisco Giants right-hander making the first exhibition start against another major league club, though he conceded that Jeremy Guthrie would have made the start if he hadn't been preparing to join Team USA this week.

"We're going to take a good look at him," Kranitz said. "We're going to give him an opportunity."

The fact that Hennessey has been plugged into that hole indicates how much of a chance he's going to get. Manager Dave Trembley also confirmed that the order and placement of some of the candidates for the final spots in the rotation and on the overall roster is an indication of the way the team is going to prioritize them.

"Those are the guys we need to take a look at," he said. "You'll see them early in camp and early in games. When those guys signed here, Andy MacPhail made a commitment to them that they would get an opportunity. I'm fulfilling that promise that has been made to them."

Hennessey was 1-2 with a 7.81 ERA with the Giants last year and 7-10 with a 4.83 ERA for Triple-A Fresno, but the Orioles obviously saw something about him they liked.

"It looks to me like he's a strike-thrower," Kranitz said. "I'd like to see what his secondary pitches do. I want to see how the hitters react."

Mind games

Kranitz also said he already has five starters lined up in his head, though he wouldn't reveal anything at this early point in camp.

"I think I have an idea what it's going to be," Kranitz said, "but that's just right now. It can obviously change. ... I had five in my mind last year at this time and it was wrong."

The first three are fairly easy, based on recent comments by Kranitz and Trembley. Guthrie and Koji Uehara are locks, and Kranitz was very complimentary of Rich Hill's performance after a rocky start here. The fourth guy could be Hennessey, but Kranitz said he has one "sleeper."

That could be anyone from Danys Baez to John Parrish to Brian Bass. Matt Albers, Hayden Penn and David Pauley all seem to be legitimate candidates, but none of them could be called a sleeper, as they've all been mentioned as likely fourth or fifth starters.

Pie update

Outfielder Felix Pie, who has been detained in the Dominican Republic because of visa problems, received his passport yesterday and is expected to arrive in Miami about 8:30 a.m. and then drive to Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

He'll have to take a physical, which means Pie probably won't work out with the club for the first time until tomorrow. Acquired from the Chicago Cubs this offseason, Pie will be given a shot at the starting left-field job.

Around the horn

Sean Green will start for the New York Mets in the exhibition opener at Fort Lauderdale Stadium tomorrow. Kyle Lohse will start for the St. Louis Cardinals here Thursday.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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