Orioles trim spring roster to 33 players

Orioles trim spring roster to 33 players

Orioles trim spring roster to 33 players
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Orioles trimmed their spring roster by eight prior to Monday night's game, with the latest round of cuts shedding some light on what the 25-man roster will look like for Opening Day on April 6.

Infielder Matt Antonelli and pitchers Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, with outfielder Scott Beerer, catcher John Hester, infielder Steve Tolleson and pitchers Armando Galarraga and Dontrelle Willis reassigned to Minor League camp.

The moves -- which bring the spring roster to 33 -- puts two of the team's three players in contention for a utility/bench role in Minors camp, leaving only Rule 5 Draft pick Ryan Flaherty. Still, manager Buck Showalter wasn't ready to anoint Flaherty with a spot, even with Tolleson and Antonelli both sent to Minors camp.

"Those guys, like I told all of them, they could come right back," Showalter said. "We want them to get 4,5 at-bats every day and play. They've had a tough [time], because of the evaluation we needed with Flaherty, he's played a little bit more. But those guys, Hester, all those guys are still an option. We want to get them down there because they are not on the roster, now they can play every day and get ready."

Still, the position looks like Flaherty's to lose, particularly given the way he's played this spring. In 18 spring games, Flaherty has a .279 average with a .326 on-base percentage, including two doubles, two triples, a homer and eight RBIs. His RBIs are tied for second most on the team and trail only center fielder Adam Jones, who has 11. While Showalter has said previously that the team could take more than one of the Antonelli, Flaherty, Tolleson group, Monday's cuts seem to indicate the team is leaning toward Nick Johnson as another bench option to go with Endy Chavez and either Ronny Paulino or Taylor Teagarden as the backup catcher.

Showalter singled out several guys, including Beerer -- a converted pitcher -- who made an impression on him this spring, and said Antonelli and Tolleson represented a big upgrade for the organization in terms of depth at the backup infield spots.

In a somewhat interesting decision, both Berken and Bergesen will be stretched out to start for Triple-A Norfolk this season. While Bergesen has been a swingman and could go either way, Berken -- who made his first Grapefruit League appearance on Sunday -- entered camp trying to win a spot in the bullpen before being slowed by a left hamstring strain.

"We feel like there's some people ahead of them right now," Showalter said. "Berky, it's because he got behind the eight-ball with the leg. We'll see. Hopefully they pitch well and present an option to us as starters. It's not like they are going away. Just going to be hopefully some depth for us that can impact our club. That's going to kind of be up to them."

Additionally, the Orioles officially placed pitcher Zach Britton (left shoulder impingement) and infielder Brian Roberts (concussion) on the 15-day disabled list on Monday.