Final Spring Training Primer: Opening Day roster basically finalized; four to be moved to 40-man; Rule 5 picks Cortes, Araujo to go north - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Final Spring Training Primer: Opening Day roster basically finalized; four to be moved to 40-man; Rule 5 picks Cortes, Araujo to go north

What’s happening? – The Orioles’ 25-man roster is basically complete, barring any last-minute changes or signings.

It appears four non-roster players will make the team: Outfielders Craig Gentry and Colby Rasmus, designated hitter Pedro Alvarez and corner infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia.

Space on the 40-man roster must be made for all four, but the Orioles can wait until noon Thursday to do that.

The Orioles, at least initially, will carry three Rule 5 picks, including outfielder Anthony Santander, who was selected in December 2016 from the Cleveland Indians and must stay in the majors for at least 44 consecutive days to satisfy his Rule 5 requirement.

The other two must remain with the Orioles this season or be offered back to their original clubs: Right-handed reliever Pedro Araujo, who was drafted away from the Chicago Cubs organization and has just two innings of experience in Double-A, and Nestor Cortes Jr., who was selected from the New York Yankees and will be the second left-hander in the Orioles’ bullpen.

That leaves Mike Wright Jr., and Miguel Castro to claim the two remaining spots on the 12-man pitching staff. They’ll both go into the bullpen, but one likely will make a start or two in early April while newly signed right-hander Alex Cobb gets stretched out in the minors.

Rookie Chance Sisco made the team as a backup catcher after an outstanding offensive spring. His defense needs work, but his shot to go to Baltimore was helped immeasurably because the Orioles needed additional left-handed hitters.

“I did what I could control, I guess,” Sisco said. “I didn’t really know what to expect coming into camp. I knew I had a shot and knew there were other guys competing for the spot as well. I came in ready to go from Day One. That was my goal, coming into camp, to make the team. Now I’m just here to help the team win some games.”

** The expected 25-man Opening Day roster, not including injured players such as Mark Trumbo, Zach Britton and Gabriel Ynoa, is as follows:

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Catchers (2): Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco.

Infielders (6): Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Tim Beckham, Danny Valencia, Pedro Alvarez.

Outfielders (5): Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Colby Rasmus, Anthony Santander, Craig Gentry.

Starting pitchers (4): Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman.

Relievers (8): Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier, Pedro Araujo, Nestor Cortes Jr., Miguel Castro, Mike Wright Jr.

** Third baseman Tim Beckham, who injured his groin Thursday, is still expected to be ready for Opening Day. Assuming Beckham is healthy, the Orioles won’t use a traditional utility infielder to start the season.

Valencia doesn’t play middle infield, but if an infielder needs a rest or gets hurt within a game, Valencia can play third base and Beckham could move to shortstop or second base.

The Orioles had some interest in re-signing former utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, who opted out of his minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Flaherty, however, has reportedly decided to sign a big league deal with the Atlanta Braves. He’ll be reunited with his brother-in-law, Nick Markakis (their wives are sisters).

** Andrew Cashner starts for the Orioles this afternoon as they play their Triple-A team in Norfolk, Va. While the Orioles will leave Sarasota in the morning and continue on to Baltimore after the game, the Tides return to Florida to conclude spring training.

Cashner, Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman will start – in that order — after Dylan Bundy works the season opener Thursday against the Minnesota Twins. Manager Buck Showalter isn’t sure about his temporary fifth starter.

Cobb could be ready to pitch as soon as April 9 or potentially April 14, if they want to extend Cobb to six innings in the minors before he’s activated. Cobb worked three innings in a simulated game in Sarasota on Sunday.

** Center fielder Adam Jones, who was away from the club this weekend due to a family matter, is expected to rejoin the club for today’s game.

What’s happened? – In the Orioles’ final Grapefruit League game Sunday against Philadelphia in Clearwater, Fla., Cortes allowed a run on four hits in three innings and Castro pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six.

Despite the obvious math, Cortes said he hasn’t been told he’s officially on the team.

“I’d rather hear the news and celebrate after,” Cortes said. “I don’t want to take anything for granted.”

Showalter felt that Castro’s stuff was excellent.

“That’s about as sharp as you want to see a pitcher in the spring,” Showalter said. “That was fun. He’s ready to go.”

** To finish off the roster maneuvering during the weekend, outfielder Austin Hays was optioned to Double-A Bowie, and catcher Andrew Susac and infielder Engelb Vielma were optioned to Norfolk. All are currently on the 40-man roster.

Left-handed pitchers Josh Edgin and Joely Rodriguez, infielder Luis Sardinas and outfielders Cedric Mullins and Alex Presley were reassigned to minor league camp. None was on the 40-man roster.

What’s up with? – Edgin and Rodriguez combined to allow just two runs on 10 hits in 17 1/3 innings, but neither made the team.

“Neither one of them did anything not to make the club,” Showalter said. “Both of those guys have a chance to help us.”

Edgin and Rodriguez, both signed to minor league deals this winter, will go to Triple-A Norfolk.

What’s what? – Araujo’s addition is one of the unlikeliest in team history. Not only was he the least publicized and experienced of the Rule 5 draft choices, he had to beat out two other Rule 5 players, as well as pitchers with substantial major league experience.

Araujo, 24, is probably the longest shot to make the Orioles since right-hander Randor Bierd, a Rule 5 draft pick who played in 2008 for a team that was much weaker.

The Orioles hope Araujo will be better than Bierd, who was 0-2 with a 4.91 in 29 games. It was his only major league season.

What’s the word – “There’s that potential. It’s something we’ve been looking at since last year.” – Manager Buck Showalter on whether Chris Davis, who led off several times this spring, could do that during the regular season.

What’s the number? – 17. That’s the second most wins the Orioles have had in the nine years they’ve trained in Sarasota. In 2013, they went 19-9-4.

What’s the record? – 17-12-2.  They have one last exhibition game that doesn’t count in the annual spring standings before arriving in Baltimore. The Orioles face the Tides today with right-handed prospect Yefri Ramirez on the mound for Norfolk.

Rich Dubroff covers the Orioles for PressBoxOnline.com. You can read his stories here.



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