Peter Schmuck

Orioles' pitching-heavy roster isn't going to last long

Orioles pitcher Ryan Webb would be due $2.7 million if released by the organization.

The Orioles delivered a couple of curveballs on Sunday when the club released its Opening Day roster by the 3 p.m. deadline, but there's a pretty good chance it will change more than once over the next few days.

Obviously, it'll change after the Orioles open the season against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, because the team will get Chris Davis back after he serves the final game of his 25-game suspension for using Adderall. Dan Duquette said during a conference call on Sunday that Davis' return will reduce the size of the bloated 14-man pitching staff.


Manager Buck Showalter said as recently as week ago that he intended to open with 12 pitchers. Then, he announced he would probably keep 13 at the outset. No one expected the Orioles to carry 14, and it's possible they won't even get to gametime on Monday with that many.

"That's not ideal,'' Duquette said. "We've got some more work to do to get our team in shape. We won't be going with 14 pitchers for long."


The most interesting announcement during the Sunday conference call was that Ubaldo Jimenez will start Saturday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Camden Yards. It was long assumed that Showalter would use the day off to keep Chris Tillman on regular rest, but the decision to start Jimenez is a reflection of the momentum he has built in spring training and the desire to give him every opportunity to get off to a good start.

The Orioles can use the days off over the next two months to severely limit the number of times they will need a fifth starting pitcher, but -- for now -- they want Jimenez to keep pitching, which will seem very logical until it doesn't.

Meanwhile, top pitching prospect Kevin Gausman will go to the bullpen until somebody leaves open a spot in the rotation.

That's not the perfect situation for Gausman, but under the circumstances, it's probably the right move for the team. For the moment, it doesn't look like he'll get a lot of innings with such a crowded bullpen, but things can change quickly on Team Roster Move.

The Orioles have been trying to figure out what to do with reliever Ryan Webb, who reportedly made it through waivers but cannot be sent to the minor leagues without his permission and is due a guaranteed $2.7 million if the organization releases him.

The club would obviously like to make a deal to recoup some of that salary, which might be why Duquette seemed to hint that something was in the works.

The roster that was submitted Sunday also includes Rule 5 draft pick Jason Garcia, who must remain in the major leagues for the entire season or be waived and offered back to the Boston Red Sox. Clearly, the Orioles hope to keep him, and sent T.J. McFarland to the minors to make that possible.

"We trust what we've seen,'' Showalter said. "We're going to find out. There is nothing set in stone, but we think Jason has a chance to be a good major league pitcher."