O's still have plenty of roster decisions to make

Tillman's injury may lead to some shuffling to open the season

O's still have plenty of roster decisions to make

Who will be on the Orioles' Opening Day roster?

While it's still too early to make final predictions, there has been some clarity since the O's arrived at Spring Training, most notably because of the Chris Tillman injury, which will almost certainly put him on the disabled list to start the season. Given their early off-days, the O's could opt for the extra bench player to start the season, which manager Buck Showalter has referenced a few times this spring, rather than an extra relief arm.

With a few other players nursing minor injuries, there's still a lot in play. But, here's another look at where the roster stands, with plenty yet to be decided.

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C (2): Welington Castillo, Caleb Joseph.

1B (1): Chris Davis.

2B (1, possibly 2): Jonathan Schoop will presumably be backed up by Ryan Flaherty again, though that's not set in stone, as Flaherty has been battling some shoulder soreness this spring.

3B (1): Manny Machado.

SS (1): J.J. Hardy, who was slowed with back spasms early on, has returned to the field and should be ready for the start of the season.

Utility (1): Flaherty is still the favorite for the bench spot if he's healthy. If not, the O's could go with a guy like non-roster invitee Robert Andino.

DH (1): Mark Trumbo is expected to serve primarily as a designated hitter this year.

Outfielders (5, potentially 6): Adam Jones, Seth Smith, Hyun Soo Kim, Craig Gentry, Joey Rickard, Trey Mancini. This is where things could get interesting. Beyond the first three names, the rest is guesswork.

The recent signing of Pedro Alvarez crowds things, though with Trumbo returning to the role as designated hitter and Smith's addition, Alvarez really needs an injury or trade to land a spot. Mancini, who is not a lock, has had a solid offensive spring, though he still needs to improve and show he's capable of playing the outfield. Rickard, the feel-good story of last spring, has also had a solid showing.

The O's two Rule 5 picks add some intrigue, particularly Anthony Santander, who homered in back-to-back games over the weekend, but has been shut down for a few days and is scheduled for tests on his right elbow. Gentry is looking to bounce back, has experience and could prove to be a good low-risk move.

Of course, this could all change depending on injuries as Smith has been sidelined for a few days with a hamstring issue. At this point, he's not in jeopardy of missing Opening Day, but that's certainly something to monitor.

There's also the roster shuffle caused by Tillman's injury, which could enable the O's to take an extra bench player to start the season.

Bullpen (7): Zach Britton, Darren O'Day, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens are locks. Donnie Hart should also have a spot -- he did well last year and gives the club another lefty option.

That leaves two spots to fill and a whole lot of maybes as the O's could start the season with four starting pitchers and add either an extra bench player or an extra bullpen arm. Right now, let's say they stick with seven relievers.They'd need a long man, and I'd give the early edge to Logan Verrett, who could also be a spot-starter option if needed. Gabriel Ynoa has pitched well so far, as have Jayson Aquino, Chris Lee and Richard Bleier. Truly a toss up, but I'd pencil in Aquino and Bleier, with Lee and Ynoa high on the radar.

Logan Ondrusek has been slowed by health issues and I think the preference would be for Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson -- who have both gotten off to sub-optimal starts -- to be pitching every fifth day with Norfolk. Oliver Drake is also in the mix, though he hasn't pitched well so far, and Zach Stewart is another intriguing name in the mix.

SP (4): Kevin Gausman, Wade Miley, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez.

Tillman's injury at least comes at a favorable time in the schedule, enabling the Orioles to either use a spot starter out of the bullpen or add a guy from the Minors. Either way, you're looking at a roster carousel the first week or two of the season and the O's are adept at manipulating the roster.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.