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Notes: O's close to final roster
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04/01/2004 11:58 PM ET
Notes: O's close to final roster
Infielder Luis Lopez appears to have secured a spot on Baltimore's 25-man roster. (Scott Audette/AP)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Orioles are inching closer toward their 25-man roster, and it's virtually set after the team sent infielder Clay Bellinger to minor-league camp Thursday.

Bellinger, a journeyman who was a key reserve for the 2001 Yankees, hit .273 with one homer and five RBIs and played all four infield positions. Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli, however, appeared more impressed with veteran Luis Lopez, who has likely made the roster after this move.

Lopez, who played 52 games with Baltimore in 2002, hit .435 with one homer and five RBIs and gives the O's flexibility because he is a switch hitter.

"Louie Lopez has done nothing but impress me," Mazzilli said. "I like very much what Louie Lopez can do. He can swing the bat from both sides of the plate. In his case he can come off the bench and hit."

The Orioles now have 33 players in camp and four of those are headed to the disabled list -- Jerry Hairston, Marty Cordova, Omar Daal and Mark McLemore. McLemore is not on the 40-man roster and will be placed on the minor league disabled list.

The team is likely to send pitchers Aaron Rakers and Darwin Cubillan, outfielder Darnell McDonald and catcher Carlos Mendez to minor league camp after Saturday's game against Cincinnati. That leaves 25 players, so designated hitters Jack Cust and B.J. Surhoff are likely on the roster along with Lopez and catcher Keith Osik.

"In all probability I am going to need two more days to finalize the roster," Mazzilli said. "Nothing is set yet because you never know what (injuries) might happen."

Reynolds responds: ESPN baseball analyst Harold Reynolds angered many Orioles fans last week when he made his one fearless prediction on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays: the Rays will finish third in the American League East and Toronto fourth. Yes, the former Oriole picked Baltimore to finish last in the division.

Reynolds, who played 10 Major League seasons, defended his opinion in an e-mail response to MLB.com.

"I understand how Oriole fans might be upset about my pre-season prediction. I've also heard from Blue Jay fans and they are just as mad. But for me, the ultimate goal is to get to the playoffs and eventually win the World Series.

"Being a former Oriole, I'm excited about the steps they are taking. ... they are a much-improved team. I understand they invested millions of dollars in the off-season and picked up some quality players, but pitching is the name of the game and I don't think they addressed their problems there yet.

"Remember, I'm the same guy who picked the Cincinnati Reds to win the N.L. Central last season, and we all know where they finished. Go Birds."

Gil OK: An X-ray of catcher Geronimo Gil's left ring finger showed nothing but a bruise and he was cleared to go to minor league camp. After being sent to Triple-A Ottawa on Wednesday, Gil told club officials he played all spring with a sore finger.

Gil is expected to arrive in Sarasota on Friday and will be the Lynx's starting catcher. He was visibly angry when told he was being optioned.

"I would like to think so and I am hoping so," said Mazzilli when asked whether Gil will get over the disappointment. "I don't like any of my players being happy about being reassigned. No one takes that well, and that's OK."

Boston series: The pitching matchups are officially set for the Boston series beginning Sunday at Camden Yards. Right-hander Sidney Ponson (17-12, 3.75 ERA last season) will oppose right-hander Pedro Martinez (14-4, 2.22) in the opener; left-hander Eric DuBose (3-6, 3.79) will oppose right-hander Curt Schilling (8-9, 2.95); right-hander Kurt Ainsworth (5-5, 4.08) will take on right-hander Derek Lowe (17-7, 4.47) while left-hander Matt Riley (1-0, 1.80) will face right-hander Tim Wakefield (11-7, 4.09) in the finale.

Here are the Boston rotation's career numbers against the Orioles: Martinez (8-2, 2.82), Schilling (1-3, 5.28), Lowe (7-6, 3.27) , Wakefield (9-8, 3.73).

Game notes: The Orioles finished their Florida part of the spring with a 4-1 win over the New York Mets. Eric DuBose prepped for his Tuesday start against the Boston Red Sox with 3 2/3 scoreless innings and four strikeouts. Mazzilli said he wanted to just give DuBose a few innings. The Orioles scored twice in the first inning on a RBI double by Melvin Mora and run-scoring single from Miguel Tejada against Tom Glavine.

Miguel Tejada cashed in Brian Roberts with a ground out in the fifth, and Roberts socked his second spring homer off Ricky Bottalico in the seventh. Rodrigo Lopez, making his first appearance since being sent to the bullpen, allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings. Rick Bauer, B.J. Ryan and Jorge Julio each pitched a scoreless inning.

Tidbits: The Orioles apparently passed on infielder Damian Jackson, who signed a minor league contract with the Cubs on Thursday. ... Former Oriole Scott Erickson, vying to make the Mets' rotation, threw in a minor league game on Thursday. New York reassigned pitchers James Baldwin and Aaron Heilman, leaving Erickson competing for two spots with four pitchers. ... David Segui was the lone starter not in the starting lineup against the Mets because left-hander Eric DuBose batted ninth. ... Left-hander Matt Riley will start Saturday's game against the Cincinnati Reds in Chattanooga, TN. Right-hander Juan Acevedo will go for the Reds. ... Second baseman Jerry Hairston will have his fractured right ring finger examined Friday to monitor the progress of his recovery. He is expected to return in early May.

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

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