O's to go down to the wire with roster

O's to go down to the wire with roster

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles may not have much time left to get their roster ready for the regular season, but they plan on using every single minute at their disposal. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said that he won't necessarily set his roster before his team leaves Florida on Friday night, taking advantage of an overlooked part of the schedule.

The Orioles will play an exhibition game in Washington, D.C., on Saturday and will have a workout at Camden Yards on Sunday. Trembley said Monday that his team's roster gaps -- which include vacancies in the rotation, bullpen, bench and starting infield -- still haven't been reconciled and may not be decided until the final possible moment.

"The areas that were questionable are going to come right down to the end," said Trembley, who's maintained a consistent viewpoint on the topic all spring long. "I anticipated it and planned for it. I don't think there's very many questions at all. Fifth starter, shortstop, extra player. Whenever you name the fifth starter, the bullpen will fall right into place."

The Orioles have been holding an open competition for the fifth starter's job all spring, and they've already seen an injury impact the proceedings. Southpaw Troy Patton was originally expected to be a favorite for the rotation, but he came to Spring Training with a shoulder injury and subsequently elected to undergo season-ending corrective surgery.

Baltimore is considering Brian Burres, Jon Leicester, Matt Albers and Jim Johnson for the fifth starter's slot, and as many as two of the other arms could stick as a long reliever. If they go in another direction, the Orioles could choose between Garrett Olson, Radhames Liz and Hayden Penn, each of whom has already been reassigned to the Minor League camp.

The main question facing the team's position players is a glaring hole at shortstop, and Luis Hernandez and Brandon Fahey are regarded as the only in-house options. Baltimore may well end up choosing someone off the waiver wire late in spring and installing him at shortstop, but otherwise Trembley will have to pick between his glove-heavy infielders.

There are also questions about the final bench slot and the final relief spot, but Trembley said those solutions will shake out in relation to his other decisions. Another complication is the status of veteran designated hitter Jay Gibbons, who will have to serve a 15-game suspension at the start of the season and will need to be replaced until then.

With those considerations -- and several others -- it's no wonder that Trembley is going to take his time.

"I'm probably going to take three or four extra guys for that game in D.C.," he said. "I'm not quite sure right now when that roster's going to be set. It might be before that, and it might be that Sunday we have a workout [at Camden Yards]."

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