The Baltimore Orioles won their Opening Day game, 6-2, over the Tampa Bay Rays at a sold-out Tropicana Field. The O's were led by right fielder Travis Snider and starting pitcher Chris Tillman. (Kevin Richardson)
The Orioles' roster carousel spun before the first pitch of Opening Day and it's not expected to stop revolving any time soon, though Dan Duquette thinks it might slow down.
"For the last 10 days we've had trade discussions with several teams," said Duquette, the club's executive vice president. "So some of those discussions will continue into the season, but most of the clubs got a lot of their personnel decisions resolved."
Even after designating pitcher Ryan Webb for assignment and purchasing the contract of catcher Ryan Lavarnway on Monday, the Orioles' active 25-man roster still contains eight relievers, which is one more than Orioles manager Buck Showalter prefers.
"We've got another move we have to make because obviously we don't want to go with our bench short and having too many pitchers," Duquette said.
Several players are in roster limbo — partially because of Chris Davis' situation. The slugger served the final game of his 2014 suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine Monday and will be activated from the restricted list Tuesday.
Showalter said he would expect a position player to be sent out to make room for Davis, even though the bench would remain light.
"I don't think [it will be a pitcher]," Showalter said, "Unless some things Dan is working on come together quickly."
Because Kevin Gausman is the only reliever who can be sent to the minor leagues without passing through waivers, the most logical step to alleviate the roster crunch is to trade a reliever, with left-handers Brian Matusz and Wesley Wright as possibilities. Duquette also theoretically could deal a starter to make room for Gausman in the rotation.
Webb's strange predicament
Webb was on the field in uniform before the game and signed autographs despite being designated for assignment. He was a surprise addition to the roster Sunday, but apparently was kept on as the Orioles tried to make a deal.
"I honest to God don't know what's going on right now," Webb said. "I basically got called into the office and really didn't know what was going on. I was told to sit tight."
By designating him Monday, the Orioles have 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on Webb. They already put him through outright waivers last week and a team did not claim him and his $2.75 million salary.
"A lot of different ways you can go," Showalter said. "If you talk to Dan about it, he's got a lot of things in the fire. He's just trying get a little more time to bring them to a conclusion."
Because he has a guarantee provision in his contract and has five years of service time, Webb can reject a minor league assignment, be released and still keep the entirety of the money owed to him. The 29-year-old owns a 3.38 ERA in 317 major league games, so he likely will be pursued by other teams, especially since they will only have to pay the league minimum for Webb's services.
"That's already been taken care of," said Webb, who missed time this spring with a knee injury and posted a 6.75 ERA in seven games. "I will not accept assignment [to Norfolk]."
Three catchers won't last long
After adding Lavarnway, the Orioles have three catchers on their roster. That probably will be rectified Tuesday as part of the Davis transaction. Because he has options, Steve Clevenger is the most likely candidate to be sent to the minors. But the Mount Saint Joseph graduate said he has no idea what will happen.
"I'm just here. I just work here. Dan and Buck make all the decisions and have the final say-so," Clevenger said. "Everybody here is in the dark, as well as the media and everybody else. Buck and Dan make those decisions. That's what it comes down to."
Lavarnway was reassigned to minor league camp Sunday, but was told not to go anywhere and attended Sunday's workout. Since he was waived four times this offseason, Lavarnway is used to the uncertainty.
"Things don't always happen the way you want them to happen, but going into last offseason, trying to make an Opening Day roster was the goal," he said. "So, I'm thrilled."
New faces in old places
With injuries to Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy and the free-agent departure of Nick Markakis, several Orioles Opening Day streaks were broken Monday — and one was started.
Travis Snider became the club's first Opening Day right fielder not named Markakis since Jay Gibbons in 2006. Caleb Joseph was the first catcher to start an opener, besides Wieters, since Gregg Zaun in 2009. Ryan Flaherty was the club's first Opening Day starting shortstop, other than Hardy, since Cesar Izturis in 2010.
Delmon Young started his second consecutive Opening Day as the designated hitter. It's the first time one Oriole has done that since Harold Baines was the starting DH in three straight openers from 1993 to 1995. From 1996 to 2014, the Orioles used 18 different players at DH in 19 openers (David Segui did it in 2002 and 2004).
Right-hander Chris Tillman would have liked to have signed a contract extension before Opening Day, but an agreement wasn't reached. An industry source said talks have been tabled for the season. Tillman is not a free agent until after the 2017 season … Showalter said he expects David Lough (hamstring) to be the first injured player off the disabled list, possibly when he is eligible Saturday. He said Hardy (shoulder) could be next and he doesn't think Wieters (elbow) is that far behind. Wieters has not fully ramped up his throwing. … The Rays held a pregame ceremony honoring long-time coach and special advisor Don Zimmer, who died in June. The club retired Zimmer's No. 66 jersey, which joins Wade Boggs (12) and Jackie Robinson (42) as the only uniform numbers retired by the Rays. … Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia, who grew up in nearby Land O'Lakes, had to score 11 tickets for the game, which is his first Opening Day as a major leaguer. …The Lungevity Foundation named the Orioles its "April Lungevity Hero" for the club's support of the lung cancer research. The Orioles have worked closely with the nonprofit foundation, which was the favorite charity of late public relations director Monica Barlow, who died of lung cancer in 2014.