Baltimore manager Dave Trembley spoke at length about his team’s pursuit of a veteran relief ace on Monday, framing it as insurance for his young rotation and a way to get the most out of the returning talent in his bullpen. Trembley said that he’d rather not rely on Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara as his closer, preferring instead to slot them earlier in the game.
“If you don’t get a closer, now you come into Spring Training kind of unsettled again and you might have to take a look at JJ there,” said Trembley, who grew comfortable with Johnson as his setup man. “You might have to take a look at what Chris Ray does. But if you go out and get a closer, then I think you can kind of line up the back end of your bullpen.”
As for Uehara, Trembley said he’s at a bit of a loss. Uehara spent most of his career in Japan as a starter and struggled with hamstring and elbow ailments last year in his stateside transition. Now, Trembley wants to see him healthy before he decides his role.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what to say about Koji,” he said. “I think you have to see Koji come into Spring Training and see if he’s healthy. I think you’ve got to get him in Spring Training and see if he’s healthy and then decide what’s best for him and where he fits in with the team. It’s hard for me to say right now because he ended the season hurt.”
— Spencer Fordin