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Skipper close to finalizing O's lineup

Skipper close to finalizing O's lineup

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Baltimore manager Dave Trembley has been using his team's lone off-day next Monday as a shield for any roster-related questions, an endeavor that will have to change within the next few days. The Orioles have just two weeks left of Spring Training and will come back on Tuesday with several questions left in front of them.

Trembley has been saying for weeks that he'll likely name his closer, shortstop, fifth starter and his choice for Opening Day starter in short order after the off-day, but he said Saturday that the last two choices may take more time. Trembley still wants to see some of the pitchers a little bit more, which somewhat complicates the process.

"It's pretty clear in my mind right now," he said of his decision-making process. "It's just a matter of playing and allowing people to surface to where you think they should be. You've just got to play, and it's time now."

Trembley has all but said that non-roster invitee Steve Trachsel will make the rotation, joining holdovers Adam Loewen, Daniel Cabrera and Jeremy Guthrie. Any of those four could be the team's Opening Day starter, and Trembley said he won't make his decision for that honorary outing until after he decides who will round out his rotation.

"A lot of it also has to do with who is our fifth starter," he said. "I'd like to arrange this thing accordingly depending on who the fifth starter is going to be -- whether it's a right- or a left-handed guy. I wouldn't want to have two lefties back-to-back."

The main candidates for the fifth starter job appear to be right-handers Matt Albers and Radhames Liz and southpaws Garrett Olson and Brian Burres. Hayden Penn was also regarded as a potential choice before being demoted to the Minor League camp earlier in the week.

Trembley now has to find ways to evaluate the rest of the contenders. The manager assigned Albers and Burres to pitch in Minor League games for their last rotation turn, a placement that allowed Olson to start and throw three scoreless innings against the Twins. That process may or may not be repeated on Tuesday, when the Orioles will likely choose between Albers and Olson to start at Fort Lauderdale Stadium against Minnesota.

"We may have something to say about that tomorrow when we look at how we're going to set it up coming out of the off-day on Monday," said Trembley on Saturday. "I'd like to give Albers an opportunity to start in one of these games. And I'd like to give him to start, if at all possible, in a game at home so we can all watch."

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Trembley went on to say that he's "not sure" if Olson will get another start, but that he would like to see him pitch again. Olson, who got seven starts down the stretch last year, has a 1.29 ERA in seven innings this spring. Albers, who arrived in an offseason trade for Miguel Tejada, has a 3.60 ERA in his five spring innings thus far.

Baltimore has already trimmed two starting candidates -- Penn and Troy Patton, who is set to undergo season-ending surgery on his left shoulder at some point before the end of the month. One of the biggest factors in the race remains Loewen, who was scratched from his last start with shoulder pain and appears to be ready to start again Wednesday.

Guthrie will also need to be factored into the mix, but the Orioles could always make room by making one of their starters throw in an intrasquad or simulated game. Trembley knows he has a wealth of options available to him and recognizes that things became a lot more difficult to project once Baltimore elected to trade staff ace Erik Bedard.

"We knew that once Bedard was traded," he said. "That became very clear .... We'll come up with the best plan we can."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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