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Orioles notes: Early test for Trey Mancini in right field; Tillman's final bullpen Wednesday

Trey Mancini will make his regular season debut in right field Wednesday, something manager Buck Showalter said needed to happen sooner rather than later to see whether he could handle the new position at this level.

"He did well with what was presented to him, showed himself as an option, and now we take the next step to see if it'll work in a major league game," Showalter said. "There's no other way, no easy way around it.

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"... It's another part in the process. There's nothing you can do — it's just like how do you find out if Steve Pearce can play second base? How do you find out of Joey Rickard can play right as well as left? How do you find out Manny [Machado] can play third base? Sooner or later, you've got to play them up here. It's a different look. Are you going to wait until we have to make some decisions on rosters and stuff-which is coming on Sunday? We all know the ball gets to you."

Mancini began playing the outfield in games in mid-March, and got a handful of starts there in the Grapefruit League, but Showalter has said he worked on it daily, whether it was in a game or not. The transition was made to accommodate the presence of Chris Davis at first base and Mark Trumbo at designated hitter, but simply looking at where Mancini is slotted into the lineup — sixth — shows just why this experiment is taking place.

Against a left-handed starter such as Toronto's J.A. Happ, Mancini's right-handed bat is one they badly want to get onto the field. Showalter knows there will be adjustments, and maybe some tough moments, but said the experience is worth it.

"Just trust yourself, is kind of what I've [said]," Showalter said. "Trust your instincts. The third deck is always hard to get used to … just the depth perception, the wall. But athletically, he can handle it. That's a guy who can score from first on a double, score from second on a single. I think we got to see the side of him as a first baseman this spring, as opposed to the year before when he had a little more, I don't want to say nerves or anxiety, but Trey is such a pleaser — wants to please, wants to be good at everything. He's willing to do anything. It just creates another good option for us if he can do it."

Rickard is starting opposite Mancini in left field, also making his first start of the season, while Seth Smith and Hyun Soo Kim take their left-handed bats to the bench against a same-side starter.

Craig Gentry remains on the bench, which Showalter says allows for more maneuvering late in games.

"If we play Gentry, our bench becomes a lot less versatile," he said. "Now, we've got a weapon that they have to defend late in the game, and he can defend. We haven't had that. If you put him in a game, you're going to have to do something different to keep him from showing his skill — trying to make them adjust to what we're doing versus us constantly trying to adjust to what they're doing. I want to dictate it to them instead of them dictating it to us."

Tillman takes third bullpen: Right-hander Chris Tillman's third bullpen session — a step in his rehab from shoulder soreness that he never got to earlier this spring — involved him throwing two sets of 15 pitches, Showalter said.

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While there was no update on how that went, Showalter said nothing the Orioles have seen so far takes Tillman off a timeline for an early-May return to the big leagues.

"It'll be May," Showalter said. "There's a potential where you could do something, the last start in April, but I think we're going to … carry into May, if I was a guessing man. Something would have to change where he just feels so good and is able to extend his innings. I want to make sure he's ready for the rest of the season when he comes back."

Tillman is set to return to Sarasota, Fla., for live batting practice to the extended spring training hitters Saturday, then he will pitch in an extended spring game April 11.

O'Day improved: Reliever Darren O'Day wasn't available on Opening Day due to a bout with the flu, but is better Wednesday and able to pitch. Showalter said he spoke to the veteran reliever Tuesday, and the mere mention of a possible disabled list trip was quickly shot down.

Showalter said: "He said, 'No no no no no no. No. No. I'm good. I'm ready to go. I feel a lot better.'"

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