Orioles observations: Tillman DL'd, Roberts hitting ninth, Urrutia playing

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after Thursday night's game that he doesn't believe the decision to place right-hander Chris Tillman on the 15-day disabled list before the season starts was a difficult one for Tillman to accept.

"Difficult? Why? He made the club, if he is healthy [Friday] and things go well then it means he'll join us and he's got a chance to be one of our five starters," Showalter said. "Why would that be difficult? That's pretty good news."


Perhaps, but Tillman obviously believes he is healthy – he said recently that he hasn't felt the abdominal soreness for a couple weeks and no one wants to begin the season on the disabled list. No player wants to feel somewhat disconnected, even if it is for a few days.

Still, this is simply a procedural move. Tillman most likely will be removed from the DL for the club's fifth game of the season April 6 (though it's not impossible it could be a week later if they want to get Tillman a rehab start at Norfolk before facing big league hitters).


The decision allows the Orioles to add one more player to the 25-man roster and buys the club time to figure out which bubble guy – T.J. McFarland, Ryan Flaherty and, likely, Steve Pearce -- is more expendable. Or have a built-in option if someone gets hurt in the first four games.

There's also the theory it's easier for the club to get McFarland, a Rule 5 pick, through waivers during that first week when everyone has already set their rosters. But even if McFarland would clear, the Orioles would then have to work out a deal with the Cleveland Indians to keep McFarland. And the sense is the Indians wouldn't approve a trade and instead would just want McFarland back. So getting him through waivers may be a moot point.

Overall, the Tillman decision isn't surprising. The Orioles made 178 moves last year. It was a constant roster shuffle. If they could get four days to play with the roster and still keep Tillman on turn, the Orioles were going to seize that possibility.

One thing that got lost in Thursday's game: Brian Roberts batted ninth.

Roberts has been hitting first or second this spring. So that was a real departure for the veteran who was once one of the best leadoff men in baseball.

And the sense is ninth is where Roberts may be batting when the season starts – with Nick Markakis hitting first, a spot that Markakis thrived in while Roberts was injured last season.

One other point on this: The media didn't get Thursday's lineup until right before first pitch. There was a holdup – and an undisclosed holdup.

Wouldn't be surprised at all if Showalter wanted to talk to Roberts about batting ninth before he made his lineup public. That's the kind of thing Showalter does with his veterans.


For what it's worth, Roberts has said all spring he doesn't care where he hits, so long as it isn't 10th.

Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia is expected to play for the Orioles on Friday in their exhibition against the State College of Florida. The Orioles' team is expected to be filled with minor leaguers – they'll take no risks against a collegiate pitching staff. But a lot of eyes will be on Urrutia, who finally joined the club this month.

Will be nice to see him hit up close – and get a sense as to whether the hype matches the skills.