Eaton fifth starter - but not just yet

The Baltimore Sun

NORFOLK, Va. -The Orioles have made their final roster decision, sort of.

Manager Dave Trembley told right-hander Adam Eaton on Friday morning that he had made the club as the fifth starter but won't be activated until he's needed to pitch.

Eaton, who was released by the Philadelphia Phillies this spring, was signed to a minor league deal and is not on the 40-man roster. So the club does not have to make a move with him yet.

His first outing will come next Saturday or April 12 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards. Until then, he will remain with the club but not be allowed in the dugout during games.

Before his start, the team will have to make corresponding moves to their 25- and 40-man rosters.

Eaton, 31, was expecting to make the club, but he said he took nothing for granted until his meeting with Trembley.

"Last night I woke up a few times thinking about it," Eaton said. "I felt good about the conversation I had with Dave and [pitching coach Rick Kranitz], and I am definitely very pleased to be a part of the ballclub."

Eaton didn't pitch particularly well this spring, going 1-2 with a 7.29 ERA in five games. He allowed 33 hits and eight walks in 21 innings. But he is a nine-year veteran and will cost the Orioles the league minimum because the Phillies are responsible for the rest of the three-year, $24.5 million deal he signed after the 2006 season.

He said he doesn't care where he is in the rotation; he just wants to pitch.

"A win as a No. 1 starter and a win as a No. 5 starter counts equally on the board as a win," Eaton said. "So wherever and however you get the win I don't think is the question. It's how many you get."

Trembley's rotation sets up this way: Jeremy Guthrie will pitch Opening Day against the New York Yankees. Koji Uehara follows Wednesday, and Alfredo Simon pitches Thursday.

Left-hander Mark Hendrickson faces his old team, the Tampa Bay Rays, when they come to Camden Yards on Friday, and Guthrie or Eaton will pitch Saturday, with the other one likely starting the next day.

The bullpen for the first week will be George Sherrill, Chris Ray, Jim Johnson, Jamie Walker, Brian Bass, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate and Danys Baez.

Roberts returns

Second baseman Brian Roberts, who hadn't played since he left the World Baseball Classic on March 22, was back in the leadoff spot for the Orioles. Bothered by an upper respiratory infection and then a sore left oblique, Roberts hadn't played for the Orioles since March 14.

"I'll just move on and deal with it," Roberts said.

Roberts played five innings in the field and had three at-bats. He walked to lead off the game, flied out in the second and tripled to right-center field in the fourth and scored.

Trembley said he expected Roberts to play five innings again Saturday in Washington and be ready for Opening Day.

Around the horn

Right-hander Jim Hoey was taken off the 40-man roster, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Double-A Bowie. The club now has 38 players on its 40-man roster. ... Catcher Gregg Zaun (elbow) had the day off and will play Saturday. ... Next Saturday's game against the Rays will be held at 7:05 p.m. It previously was listed as to be announced. ... The announced attendance of 11,833 was just short of a sellout at Harbor Park.

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