With Teagarden to DL, roster taking shape
Paulino will be Opening Day backup catcher; bullpen still in flux
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Buck Showalter said Friday that Taylor Teagarden will start the season on the disabled list, a move that ensures Ronny Paulino will be the Orioles' Opening Day backup catcher, as the team's 25-man roster starts to take shape.
Teagarden last appeared in a spring game March 6 and will get a second epidural in his lower back on Monday, with the hope it will clear out the last bit of inflammation. Teagarden is eligible to come off the disabled list April 10, although he said that's the "best-case scenario" at this point.
"I want to come back feeling good," said Teagarden, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Texas. "If it's a week after that or something, I'd be really happy with that. The way things are going, and the strength in my back and the way it's feeling, they are telling me I'm going to start doing a lot more dry-land activity and get out of the pool. I think two to three weeks from now is very reasonable."
Paulino, who arrived at camp three weeks late because of visa issues, will make the club as a non-roster invitee. At this point in the spring, it's highly unlikely the Orioles would be able to pick up another backup to starter Matt Wieters, and Paulino is the only other backstop remaining in camp.
"I'm going to prepare myself every day and not take any day for granted," said Paulino, who admitted he didn't think he'd have a shot to make the club, given his late arrival. "Each day will be like my last day. I'm going to try to work as hard as I can every day and keep myself in shape, and [I] look forward to the opportunity to help this team win."
The rest of the bench figures to include outfielder Endy Chavez and infielders Ryan Flaherty -- a Rule 5 Draft pick -- and Nick Johnson, another non-roster invitee for whom the club will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
The only other position player still in camp without a secure spot is outfielder Jai Miller, and Showalter confirmed Friday that the club will almost certainly go with 13 position players and 12 pitchers to start the season.
"There's one more cut," Showalter said. "I think you guys [in the media] know exactly what it's between. [I'm] not there yet, publicly."
Miller is out of options and will have to clear waivers if he doesn't make the club, before accepting an assignment at Triple-A. The Orioles could hold off on making that move until the end of Spring Training to give Miller a better chance to clear waivers.
The pitching picture is less certain, particularly in the bullpen, where the team has five right-handers who look to be locks: Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, Luis Ayala and Pedro Strop. Asked if the Orioles would need a long reliever, Showalter said they are trying to set it up so the club has a "maneuverable bullpen," although he didn't say it would include a long man, per se.
"There's just so much unknown there," he said. "We feel like we'll have some people in our bullpen that can provide more than one inning."
Alfredo Simon -- who is out of options-- is a candidate for that job, and Chris Tillman is another option, although it remains to be seen if the organization would prefer to keep the 23-year-old Tillman as a starter. Either way, it looks as if the club will keep just one lefty between Troy Patton and Zach Phillips, who are both having good springs. Patton, who has not allowed a run, is out of options.
While a late-spring trade isn't out of the question -- and given the Orioles' large number of players without options, it remains a strong possibility -- another situation that could change things is Lindstrom's health.
Lindstrom reportedly had a leg cramp a few days ago and Showalter, who has brought the issue up twice, said the club will next have him pitch in a Minor League outing, where the team can monitor Lindstrom in a controlled environment.
If his injury worsens, Lindstrom would be eligible to have his DL period backdated, since he last appeared in a Major League spring game Saturday. That could open the door for both Patton and Phillips to make the Opening Day roster, or give a spot to sidearmer Pat Neshek, who has allowed just three hits in nine scoreless innings this spring.
Darren O'Day is another candidate, depending on what executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette does in regards to moving other relievers.
The starting rotation appears to have four spots set in Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel and Tommy Hunter, with the fifth spot down to Brian Matusz or Tsuyoshi Wada, who struggled in his only spring start and will pitch again Tuesday. Matusz entered Friday's start 1-1 with a 3.20 spring ERA.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.