The Orioles may still be keeping the back-end of their rotation secret, but they disclosed the front part on Tuesday. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said that Koji Uehara would start the second game of the season, slotting right in behind staff ace Jeremy Guthrie.
“He’s the best available guy we have,” said Trembley. “He’s a guy with experience, proven success and that’s why we signed him — to put him at the top of the rotation with Guthrie.”
Baltimore is still sorting between back-end options, but Alfredo Simon is believed to have separated himself from the pack. Mark Hendrickson is also expected to fill a starting slot, leaving Brian Bass and Hayden Penn to compete for one spot.
The Orioles had another distressing performance from a rotation candidate Saturday, when Adam Eaton allowed five earned runs in five innings of work. Baltimore’s starters have allowed at least five runs in each of their last three games — with starts by Jeremy Guthrie and Hayden Penn included — and they’ve racked up a 9.21 ERA in their last nine outings.
Baltimore has just two assured rotation slots — those belonging to Guthrie and free agent acquisition Koji Uehara — and is attempting to fill the other three from a pool of five candidates. The decision isn’t getting any easier, though, and will likely go down to the wire.
The Orioles welcomed back staff ace Jeremy Guthrie to the fold on Monday, but manager Dave Trembley elected not to immediately name him his Opening Day starter. Still, the overwhelming likelihood is that Guthrie will pitch the season opener for the second straight year, and there are a few ways Baltimore can get him ready for that.
One, the most likely route, is to have Guthrie pitch twice more before the season starts. The right-hander is expected to go four innings Monday, and the Orioles could pitch him again on three days’ rest on Friday. After that, it would be a straight shot to a start on normal rest on April 1, and then again on normal rest on Opening Day.
Baltimore can play with the schedule a day in either direction, but the Orioles want Guthrie to get a chance to up his innings before the year begins. Manager Dave Trembley is still unsure of his trajectory, though, which explains his reticence to crown him for Opening Day. Still, Trembley admitted to being impressed with the lengths Guthrie went to start Monday.
“It probably has something to do with Guthrie being as analytical as he is,” Trembley said of his ace taking a late-night flight from California. “He’s probably got it figured out to a T how many days he needs and how many starts he can get.”
The Orioles don’t have any further update from Jeremy Guthrie, but they tentatively expect the right-hander to return from the World Baseball Classic earlier than expected. Baltimore is hoping that Guthrie will pitch for the Orioles again as early as Monday regardless of whether Team USA wins its semifinal game on Sunday.
Manager Dave Trembley said he had to consult with Andy MacPhail, president of baseball operations, for etiquette in this situation. He also said that whenever Guthrie returns, pitching coach Rick Kranitz will have his schedule sorted out.
“He’ll get enough starts,” said Trembley of his staff ace. “He’ll get his innings up if he comes back. We’re not alone there. There’s probably a lot of other teams saying that. If he comes back, if he pitches on Monday we’ll get him caught up as best we can.”
Rain scuttled one game of Baltimore’s split-squad on Wednesday, setting up a dilemma for how the Orioles will set up their pitching staff. Baltimore elected to switch Adam Eaton to the other game and push back Hayden Penn and Alfredo Simon to Thursday.
Danys Baez, Thursday’s scheduled starter, was pushed back to Friday. And Brad Bergesen and Brian Bass will now pitch instead in a Minor League game on Friday.
When asked how he would react if the Jupiter game was also rained out, pitching coach Rick Kranitz provided a memorable quip. “You’ll see a grown man cry,” he said.
Manager Dave Trembley had hoped to have some clarification on his rotation by now, but he said Wednesday that his deliberations will go far into the spring. After all, after Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara, the rotation appears to be completely barren.
“At first blush, that’s how it would appear — that there are still no clear frontrunners for anything past Uehara,” said Trembley. “Maybe today Eaton will step up and show that, but I haven’t seen guys step up and say I’m the third, fourth or fifth starter. …We felt like [Rich] Hill was going to get an opportunity, but its March 18 and he hasn’t pitched yet. You’ve got to have other plans. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing with some of these other guys.”
With three weeks left until the season starts, Baltimore manager Dave Trembley was asked Friday if he’s considered naming Jeremy Guthrie his Opening Day starter. Trembley didn’t try to hide that it will eventually happen, but said the timing may be a little bit off.
“I’ve considered it, but I think I’d like to get him back in camp before I do that,” he said. “Let him be a member of the Baltimore Orioles and not the USA [World Baseball Classic] team.”
The Orioles agreed to terms with Jeremy Guthrie on Sunday, closing out their list of unsigned players for the 2009 season. Guthrie, Baltimore’s staff ace, will make $650,000, a significant pay-cut from last season based largely on a signing bonus he recevied as a draftee.
Guthrie will still make more than many players of his service time, which is the only reason his salary was cut. And next year, he’ll be eligibile for arbitration, setting a whole new process into motion. Baltimore also announced agreeing to terms with 22 other players on Sunday, reiterating reports that have trickled out from various sources over the last few weeks.