Orioles roster starting to solidify

Orioles manager Buck Showalter just met with the media, and the club’s 25-man roster is coming into a little clearer focus.

Here are the highlights:

Catcher Taylor Teagarden will receive a second epidural in his injured back Monday. Because of that, he will definitely be starting the season on the 15-day DL, along with Zach Britton and Brian Roberts. The transactions can be backdated, so technically, those three could be eligible to come off by April 10.

Teagarden’s injury means Ronny Paulino will be the club’s backup catcher to start the season. He’s not on the 40-man roster, so a move will have to be made to add him.

Showalter said he plans to have 13 hitters and 12 pitchers on his Opening Day roster. That means it looks like, if healthy, Nick Johnson will make the club as a bench player along with Ryan Flaherty, Paulino and Endy Chavez. Showalter isn’t announcing the 13, but the only position player in camp who doesn’t look like he’ll make the club is outfielder Jai Miller.

Johnson, by the way, also is not on the 40-man roster.

Showalter still is not naming his Opening Day starter or his closer yet. But it would be a surprise if Jake Arrieta didn’t start April 6 and if Jim Johnson didn’t get the first available save opportunity.

The best guess at the rotation order is Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel and Tommy Hunter. The fifth spot is likely between Tsuyoshi Wada and Brian Matusz.

Matusz pitches today against the Detroit Tigers. Wada will pitch Tuesday, and is expected to throw 75 to 80 pitches, in an exhibition game against the State College of Florida, Showalter told Japanese reporters.

Showalter wouldn’t say who would pitch Wednesday against Triple-A Norfolk, but the best guess is that it will be Matusz, setting him up as the fifth starter.

The club would prefer not to have Wada in the bullpen since he has started all his career. So if he isn’t effective in his next start, it wouldn’t be surprising if he started on the DL and pitched in extended spring.

In a perfect world, Showalter would like to have at least one long reliever but said there may be enough flexibility where that is not needed. If they go with a long man, the guess is it would be Alfredo Simon (groin) if healthy. Another possibility is Chris Tillman.

In either of those scenarios, the Orioles would probably have just one lefty in the bullpen. The competition is between Troy Patton and Zach Phillips. Patton is out of options. 
Unless there is a trade or an injury, the bullpen locks should include Johnson, Matt Lindstrom, Kevin Gregg, Pedro Strop and Luis Ayala.

Lindstrom (hamstring) will make his next apperance in a minor league game, in case the injury worsens and he has to be placed on the disabled list. The team can backdate the transaction.

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