If you already thought the Orioles had a wide open situation regarding their starting rotation, you might want to sit down. Koji Uehara announced Tuesday that he has a slight strain of the left hamstring, an ailment that will likely cause him to miss at least one spring start.
The right-hander expressed optimism that he’ll be able to pitch well before Opening Day, but he also admitted that he’s had a prior history of hamstring problems. And here’s why it’s especially dire for Baltimore: Uehara was one of the only sure things in the rotation.
The Orioles have been trying to settle the final three slots of their rotation, and they’ve been stymied thus far by elbow injuries to Brad Hennessey and Rich Hill and a shoulder ailment for John Parrish. Hennessey and Parrish are far enough behind that they’ve already been declared out of the running, and similar word on Hill could come down any day.
For now, it appears that Brad Bergesen, Radhames Liz, David Pauley and Matt Albers have enhanced shots at breaking camp in the starting rotation. The Orioles will also evaluate Adam Eaton, who signed with the team after being released by the Phillies.
The Orioles have shared their pitching rotation for the first few days of spring, providing a glimpse into their plans for the first few games. Baltimore will have several top-flight prospects lined up to pitch against Team Italy on Tuesday, an exhibition game before the Spring Training slate begins. Brian Matusz will start that game, and the Orioles will also allow Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman to show their wares against the Italian national team.
Right-hander Brad Hennessey will start the true Spring opener against the Mets on Wednesday, and the Orioles will also throw Chris Waters, David Pauley, Brian Bass and Jim Miller in that game. Hennessey, Pauley and Waters are battling for a rotation spot.
The starter for Thursday’s game against the Marlins is as yet uncertain, but Baltimore will throw Danys Baez, Matt Albers, Chris Ray and Bob McCrory in that game. Things get more exciting on Friday, when Koji Uehara will make his stateside debut against the Marlins.