SARASOTA, Fla. — The Orioles on Wednesday finalized their starting pitchers for next week's season-opening series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen will start the second game of the season Tuesday, and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is slated to start Wednesday's series finale, the club announced. On Tuesday, manager Buck Showalter said right-hander Chris Tillman would start Opening Day on Monday.
Showalter's rotation, which he said would be selected based on matchups over the season's first few weeks, now is coming more into focus.
Right-hander Bud Norris is likely to start the Orioles' home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 10. Because of next Thursday's day off, Tillman could start again April 11 on regular rest, or the team's fifth starter, likely right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, could go.
Jimenez also could start April 12 if Tillman returns on regular rest, but Showalter said the team could go without a fifth starter for the season's first week. Given their schedule, the Orioles might not need a fifth starter until April 15.
Several weeks ago, Showalter said the order of his starting rotation might look unconventional, as it would be based on matchups. Both Chen and Gonzalez have sub-3.00 ERAs at Tropicana Field.
Chen is 3-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 13 career starts against Tampa Bay and 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in seven starts at Tropicana Field. Gonzalez is 4-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rays and 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in five outings in Tampa Bay.
Lough to return Friday
Showalter said outfielder David Lough, who likely will be placed on the disabled list with a sore left hamstring to open the season, is scheduled to play in minor league games beginning Friday. He is expected to play in a Triple-A game against the Rays' Triple-A affiliate in Port Charlotte, Showalter said.
The club's plan is for Lough to play in five to six minor league or extended spring games, then travel up to Baltimore to join the Orioles for their first home series of the season April 10.
The club hopes Lough can be activated soon after. He is eligible to be activated from the disabled list April 11.
Around the horn
Jimenez and Gonzalez will make their final spring starts Saturday. Jimenez will pitch in Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Atlanta Braves at Ed Smith Stadium, while Gonzalez will pitch in a minor league game at Twin Lakes Park that afternoon. … Minor league pitcher Zach Davies will start Saturday's spring finale against the Braves at Disney. Showalter is expected to give the major league team off that day — which would allow the club to hold a workout Sunday at Tropicana Field on the eve of the season opener — so Saturday's game is expected to be filled by players who are not making the Opening Day roster and minor league campers. … Showalter also said the team is more optimistic that Hardy will be able to come off the DL April 11, when he's first eligible, but it still seems unlikely. Team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs "continues to be real positive about J.J.," Showalter said. "He was good again. We might have a shot at that eligibility day; we might."