O's consider trio of third basemen for postseason roster

Unlikely candidate Paredes has chance due to late-season surge

O's consider trio of third basemen for postseason roster

BALTIMORE -- As the Orioles put together lineups during the next week and a half, there are a handful of factors to consider. The two most important are keeping the roster healthy while still competing for the top seed in the American League -- they trailed the Angels by 2 1/2 games entering Friday's series opener against the Red Sox.

Another factor, though, is determining the final couple of spots on the postseason roster, specifically at third base during the remainder of Chris Davis' suspension. Ryan Flaherty, Kelly Johnson and Jimmy Paredes have gotten the bulk of the playing time at third since Davis' regular season came to an end. All three are viewed as legitimate candidates to make the final roster and potentially start.

"We have options," manager Buck Showalter said. "Steve Pearce played 10 games over there. We're keeping our options open.

"I want us to make good decisions as we go forward, and these opportunities and chances to evaluate are fleeting."

Flaherty's bat has been inconsistent this season -- he was batting only .218 with seven homers entering Friday -- but he's the best fielder of the bunch and has been with the Orioles the entire season. Because he also plays shortstop, he's likely a lock for the playoff roster.

Johnson hasn't been any better than Flaherty offensively, but he is more experienced and was acquired before Sept. 1 with the intention of having him eligible for the postseason. He also has the most experience as a first baseman.

Paredes is the wild card. Since being called up at the end of August, he slashed .400/.432/.686 and belted a pair of home runs through 35 at-bats.

"Everybody has been the best of the best at some level," Showalter said. "Sometimes it's just such a fine line. Jimmy's 25 years old. It's not like he's 28, 29 or 30. He's got an option."

• Outfielder Nick Markakis was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game on Friday after being hit by a pitch in the back against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Showalter said Markakis is available off the bench.

• Davis will report to Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday to work out with the taxi squad.

• Lazaro Leyva, a 20-year-old pitcher from Cuba, is at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for a physical. He will head to Sarasota for instructional league once that's finished.

David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.