Handicapping the remaining roster spots

The Orioles are expected to make more cuts Wednesday.

They actually may come in two waves, since the Orioles have split-squad road games -- one at 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.


By my calculation – and in my opinion -- there are 21 guys who absolutely will make the 25-man roster.

That's 10 position players: Matt Wieters, Steve Clevenger, Chris Davis, Steve Lombardozzi, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, David Lough and Nelson Cruz.


And 11 pitchers: Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Tommy Hunter, Darren O'Day, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, Ryan Webb and Josh Stinson.

Because the Orioles likely will take 12 pitchers and 13 hitters, there basically are three separate battles still looming, in my opinion.

1. Last bullpen spot

To me, there are two candidates: Right-handers Evan Meek and Alfredo Aceves.

Meek has allowed one run in seven innings, has minor league options remaining and is on a minor league deal. Aceves hasn't pitched as well as Meek -- five earned runs in 10 innings -- but he can opt out by Friday (and again on June 30).

My guess: Meek

2. Middle infield spot

There are three candidates here since I am giving Lombardozzi a spot on the 25-man roster (my guess is he starts Opening Day at second base).


The candidates: Jonathan Schoop, Jemile Weeks and Alexi Casilla.

Casilla's on a minor league deal; the other two are on the 40-man roster and have options remaining.

Casilla is the only true utility player of the three, but he has had just 19 at-bats (.158 average) while battling injuries. Schoop, the organization's top position prospect, has had an amazing spring, batting .400 (14-for-35). But the Orioles want him to play every day, and adding Lombardozzi probably cuts into that everyday time.

Weeks has not hit well (5-for-35, .143 average), and he is likely ticketed for the minors.

I think this is really between Casilla as a utility player and Schoop as a starter. It will be interesting to see if economics surrounding Schoop's service time play a role.

My guess: Schoop, but I could see Casilla instead


3. Two bench spots

With Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar likely starting the season on the 15-day disabled list (along with Manny Machado, Edgmer Escalona and Francisco Peguero), this becomes a three-person battle for two spots.

That's if you remove Henry Urrutia and Quintin Berry from the mix. That leaves Steve Pearce, Nolan Reimold and veteran Delmon Young for two spots. Pearce and Reimold are both out of options; Young can opt out of his minor league deal, but not until June 1.

Young has really come on lately with the bat (.286 with three doubles and a homer in 42 at-bats) and is the most accomplished big league hitter of the trio. If this is purely about taking the best players, he probably gets the nod.

However, if the Orioles choose him, then they likely will lose Pearce or Reimold. Pearce can play first base and has been stroking the ball even when he's making outs (.277 with four doubles and a homer in 47 at-bats).

Reimold has held his own (.263 with one homer in 38 Grapefruit League at-bats) as he returns from multiple neck surgeries. He could get through waivers because of his $1 million salary, but the club would hate to see him flourish with another team after watching him battle adversity.


Honestly, I think this could resolve itself through a trade, but we'll see.

My guess: Pearce and Reimold or a trade of one of those to make room for Young