At first glance, it looks impossible to keep the current roster breakdown as it's a product of some early off-days, but manager Buck Showalter said Sunday afternoon the club has discussed keeping it.
"We've thought about the possibility of being able to maneuver it," he said. "There's a way to maneuver around, with 11 [pitchers] and still having seven in the 'pen. There's a way to do it, but it's going to take some foresight and imagination as we go. Really tough to do it last year. This year has a chance to be easier. But you've got to stay on top of it … you've got to have cooperation with your staff in [Triple-A] Norfolk and [Double-A] Bowie. We will see what develops. I'd love to have the same 25 all year, but we're going to need a fourth and fifth starter."
The new 10-day disabled list, down from 15 days, certainly will make roster management a little easier.
"The club can make more aggressive decisions," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "By putting them on the DL, you don't have to wait in that limbo period. … We always try to wait for a couple days for the veteran position players to see if they can come back before we put them on the DL. Now with 10 days for pitchers especially, you can have some soreness, skip a start and come back for your next start with that 10-day DL. I hope that will be better for keeping the pitchers healthy. That should be interesting."
Tillman -- who is recovering from a right shoulder injury -- isn't expected back until the end of April, while Miley -- who was slowed with illness this spring -- will come back to pitch the fifth game of the season on April 9. Santander was sidelined by right elbow inflammation and recovery from offseason right shoulder surgery.
With the early off-days, Opening Day starter Kevin Gausman can come back to pitch the fourth game, leaving the Orioles in a spot where they only need to carry three starters. Depending on weather and potential rainouts, Showalter said the club could get through April without needing a fifth starter.
The club will have some tough roster decisions to make when Miley returns and the club decides on a fifth starter, which it won't need until April 15. Dylan Bundy will pitch the second game of the season, followed by Ubaldo Jimenez in the third game.
Having an optionable bullpen is another important factor this season for the O's, who were often handcuffed last year by not having the flexibility to send guys out to Triple-A and call up a fresh arm. This year's Opening Day club has several players with options and, coupled with the shorter DL, will once again have the O's using a rotating cast and relying heavily on players at their higher affiliates.