Pitching plan rain-delayed

The Baltimore Sun

JUPITER, FLA. - The muddled race for the Orioles' open rotation was further clouded yesterday, this time by the weather.

The Orioles were supposed to have home-and-away split-squad games with the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday, but hard rain on an uncovered field at Fort Lauderdale Stadium forced the Orioles to cancel their home game.

That meant they had to reduce their pitching outings by half, postponing performances by two rotation candidates: Hayden Penn and Brad Bergesen. Also, Danys Baez, who was supposed to pitch today, has been pushed back to tomorrow.

Adam Eaton, who was scheduled to pitch in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, instead started the game in Jupiter, throwing four innings and allowing two runs (one earned).

Now, Bergesen and Brian Bass will pitch tomorrow in a game against Boston Red Sox minor leaguers in Fort Myers, and Alfredo Simon, originally scheduled for yesterday, will start today's game against the Washington Nationals.

"They're all getting pushed back except for Eaton. That's the only way to get guys work," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "Simon is getting pushed back, Penn is getting pushed back, Bergesen is getting pushed back, Baez is getting pushed back. You got to deal with it. These guys have to pitch."

The Orioles' plan was to have a much clearer picture for the rotation competition - there are eight, and potentially 10, candidates for three spots. The rainout in Fort Lauderdale has tempered those hopes.

"I said after the 18th I would have that, and it kind of got moved a little bit," Trembley said. "Now, I'll probably have to take a mulligan and wait until after I get back on the 20th to see.

"I was hoping I would get enough guys in there to pitch [yesterday] that the scenario would become a little clearer," he said. "But obviously with the one rainout today, it has not afforded me that chance."

There was concern that the game in Jupiter also might have been delayed or postponed, but the rain held off. Asked what would happen in that scenario, Kranitz quipped, "You're going to see a grown man cry."

Limited support

Right-hander David Pauley (8.18 ERA) has struggled this spring and is falling behind in the rotation race. But Pauley's old boss is hoping the 25-year-old succeeds.

"He's a great kid, and we really liked him," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

"Sometimes you maybe don't catch a break, and we were a little deeper in pitching and you have to make decisions."

Boston's rotation is jammed, and Pauley is out of minor league options. So the Red Sox traded him to the Orioles this offseason for reliever Randor Bierd.

"We certainly don't want [Pauley] to beat us," Francona said. "But we are rooting for him."

Injury update

The Orioles are finally getting some good news on the health front. Starter Koji Uehara, who hasn't pitched since March 9 because of a strained hamstring, said through his interpreter, Jiwon Bang, that he has made significant progress and should be back on the mound "within a couple days."

Kranitz said Uehara is tentatively scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow and face live hitters Sunday before returning to game action Tuesday.

A day after throwing a 50-pitch bullpen session, left-hander Rich Hill (elbow tightness) said he is "ready to go and feels 100 percent." He's going to throw batting practice tomorrow and pitch in his first spring game Tuesday or Wednesday.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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