Trying to sort out the Orioles’ 37 pitchers in big league camp officially began Friday with the team’s Grapefruit League opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium.

With four pitchers (Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman) pegged for the rotation, and four bullpen spots likely set on the Opening Day roster (Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day and Richard Bleier), that leaves 29 pitchers competing for one starting spot and three or four relief spots.


In Friday’s opener, two dark-horse relief candidates drew notice as Rule 5 draft pick Pedro Araujo and nonroster invitee Joely Rodríguez each tossed a scoreless frame.

Orioles pitcher Mike Wright Jr. gets a workout in his exhibition debut, but the results are fine.

“Araujo was good today. That was good to see,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Joely Rodríguez has been impressive all camp. It was good to see him out there.”

Araujo, the 24-year-old who pitched mostly at the High-A level last year in the Chicago Cubs organization, retired the Rays in order in a clean fifth inning, inducing a 4-3 groundout from former Orioles minor leaguer Johnny Monell, then striking out Adam Moore and Micah Johnson, both swinging.

Rodríguez, a former Philadelphia Phillies left-hander who had a strong 2016 season but had difficulty last year, displayed a mid-90s fastball with life. He retired three of the four batters he faced in a scoreless sixth, inducing nothing but weak contact on two groundouts and a lazy bloop single. He also struck out Jake Bauers swinging.

“We can say what we want to, but if they start making a case out of the chute, we’re going to have to start cutting down the numbers here at some point,” Showalter said. “There’s nothing imminent. But that’s how you get an opportunity and how you continue to have an opportunity.”

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