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Hill's return to Orioles uncertain

Hill's return to Orioles uncertain

BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Dave Trembley didn't dodge a question about his rotation as much as he danced around it on Tuesday, choosing instead to buy himself a little more time. Trembley acknowledged that lefty Rich Hill might be ready, but he said in the next breath that Baltimore isn't sure when it will promote him.

Hill, who has been sidelined with a strained left elbow since Spring Training, has pitched well in his Minor League rehab stint and could be on line to rejoin the Orioles later in the week. Trembley wouldn't confirm that, though, saying only that Hill has looked good and that Baltimore is still weighing its options.

"I don't have any update on Rich Hill," Trembley said Tuesday. "As for right now, our rotation should be what it is for Kansas City. I know Rich pitched well in the rehab on Sunday, but that decision to bring him up here has not been made. As of right now, we're going with whatever the rotation is in Kansas City."

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As of now, that means Jeremy Guthrie in the series opener followed by Adam Eaton and Koji Uehara. Mark Hendrickson would be slated to pitch in the series finale, and that's also the most likely slot for Hill, should he return. Trembley has said all along that Hendrickson might move to the bullpen upon Hill's return.

That was far from his mind Tuesday, though, and he said Hendrickson doesn't have anything to prove.

"[Hendrickson] has the opportunity to pitch well and help us win tonight," said Trembley. "I don't think Hendrickson has anything more to consider or think about than that. ... He's a pro, has a lot of experience. I think his energy and efforts are geared on tonight. I think you can do a lot of speculation on other guys and when they're coming and this and that. But all it is is speculation and I don't think you can get wrapped up into that. I think you can focus on what you're doing today and not worry about tomorrow or two days or five days down the road."

Hill, who was acquired from the Cubs during the offseason, can take as many as two more rehab appearances before the Orioles will be forced to make a decision. At that point, the Orioles would likely option a reliever -- perhaps rookie Bob McCrory -- to Triple-A Norfolk in order to clear a spot for Hill's return.

Spencer Fordin 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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