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Updates on Hardy and Lough

SARASOTA, Fla.— Shortstop J.J. Hardy is expected to start a rehab assignment next week with Class-A Frederick, a welcome sign that has the infielder ahead of schedule in his recovery from a left shoulder strain.

Hardy was out on the field prior to the O’s-Rays game at Tropicana Field taking infield for the second time since the injury and said Tuesday’s session was a lot better than the previous one.

Hardy can be activated from the 15-day disabled list anytime after Saturday and manager Buck Showalter said he won’t get into a rehab game until after Monday.  The Gold Glover may not need a length rehab given that he played in a good chunk of spring games.

David Lough (hamstring) did not play in Tuesday’s intrasquad game and it’s looking less likely that he will be activated on Saturday. Lough did participate in baseball activities down in Sarasota, Fla. on Tuesday and is hoping to play Wednesday, but only if he’s 100 percent.

Davis holds court

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is clearly ready to be back as he’s been bouncing around the clubhouse like a little kid. Davis’ 25-game suspension ends today and he’s in the lineup as the O’s designated hitter. I’ll have a full story up shortly on Orioles.com, but here is what he said…

On how it feels to be back…

“It feels good. Obviously, watching the game, everybody’s having all the fun, hitting home runs, scoring a bunch of runs. It’s good to be a part of it today. I missed these guys, even though I wasn’t really gone. Still hanging around with them on the field, just being around with them and competing. Wearing that uniform, it’s exciting.”

On if he has a different mindset…

“There’s no doubt. The perspective, I think you realize when something like the suspension comes up, it’s really a privilege to be here and a blessing to play at this level each and every day. I mean, we work hard, day in and day out to prepare ourselves and to give ourselves the best opportunity to succeed, but at the end of the day, it’s a privilege to be here and be a part of this team.”

On if he’s got extra motivation this season to make the playoffs

“I mean, that’s something that’s been a goal of mine since I got here. I was fortunate enough in 2012 to be a part of a team that went on a magical run and got to play a little bit in the postseason. Kind of experienced that the first time in a long time here. It was tough watching the team play last year and obviously lose in the ALCS. That’s something that I think is expected, not only from our fans, but from the guys in the clubhouse to be there every year, and I’m looking to get back there.”

On if this is the most excited he’s been for a game in a while..

“It’s close. I feel like Opening Day kind of is special just because what it means to everybody. It was important to me to be able to open up at home. That’s something I definitely looked at the schedule at the end of last year to see where we started. I was almost kind of relieved to see we started on the road. I didn’t want to miss the home opener. That’s pretty special for me. I was glad the way the guys competed yesterday and got the win. I’m glad to be back and be in the mix again.”

On if September 10 seems like a long time ago…

“Yeah, it does. Of course, Buck is like, ‘do you know when the last time you played a major league baseball game was?’ Yeah, on Thursday. It seems like a long time ago. A lot has gone on, a lot has changed, and I think a lot for the better to be honest with you. I wasn’t in a good place mentally last year. Physically, I wasn’t in a good place. It’s nice to put that behind me and start fresh again.”

On if it’s anticlimatic because he played all spring and missed just one game…

“I don’t know if you want to call it being fortunate but I was definitely lucky with the way things kind of timed out only having to miss one game. The fact that they made the postseason and went so deep was huge for me. I feel good, I felt good all spring. Feel like I’m swinging the bat well. There are still things I need to work on.”

On preparing for hostile crowds…

“Don’t sell them short [at Tropicana Field]. I think I kind of have to take what they give me. One of the biggest things for me was going through 2013, all the false accusations and having to hear all that stuff about steroids because I was having success. I think that kind of prepared me to go out there and play, whether they are cheering for you or against you. You can go out there and ask any big leaguer, no matter what city you are in there are going to be people that are rooting for their hometown team and against you. It’s part of it.”

On if the suspension talk is over…

“I hope so. I’m excited to put all that behind me and move forward and start over again this year.”

On if he’s taking his medication, Vyvanyse, which is an ADHD drug…

“It’s fully in…Part of having a TUE is having to take your medications. If you don’t you lose it and everything Ive gone through is for nothing.”

Os at Rays

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where the Orioles will take on the Rays for the second of a three-game series. Chris Davis will be activated from the restricted list and in the lineup for the first time since September 10. Davis was one of the first guys out taking early batting practice this afternoon and is clearly excited to get this thing going.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy took early fielding work at shortstop for the second time since he hit the disabled list with a left shoulder strain. Hardy, who also took some grounders on the team’s artificial turf practice field at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, said the fielding went much better the second time around. He is eligible to come off the disabled list as early as Saturday.

RAYS LINEUP

Brandon Guyer LF
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Desmond Jennings CF
Logan Forsythe DH
James Loney 1B
Rene Rivera C
Tim Beckham 2B

Nathan Karns SP

Opening Day

RAYS LINEUP

John Jaso DH 
Steven Souza, Jr. RF 
Asdrubal Cabrera SS 
Evan Longoria 3B 
James Loney 1B 
Desmond Jennings LF 
Logan Forsythe 2B 
Rene Rivera C 
Kevin Kiermaier CF 

Chris Archer P

Jimenez will start Game 5

The Orioles have tabbed Ubaldo Jimenez to be their fifth starter, with the right-hander slated to make his season debut on Saturday in Baltimore.

Jimenez gradually got better this spring and the O’s want to keep him in a rhythm to start the season, forgoing the opportunity to bring Opening Day starter Chris Tillman back on regular rest instead. Jimenez –working with a simplified delivery– takes the final rotation spot over Kevin Gausman, who will be in the bullpen to start the season.

Signed to a four-year, $50-million contract last spring Jimenez went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA and was taken out of the rotation down the stretch last year. After  rough spring debut, he pitched to a 2.88 ERA –with all but one start on the road– in the Grapefruit League.

He will be facing the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

Os announce Opening Day roster

SARASOTA, Fla.— The Orioles set their Opening Day roster on Sunday, going with 14 pitchers and 11 position players for a roster that changes immediately after Game 1 as Chris Davis’ suspension ends.

Ryan Lavarnway and Nolan Reimold were reassigned to minor league camp, with lefty pitcher T.J. McFarland optioned as the final cuts.

Pitchers on the roster are Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman, Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Brad Brach, Brian Matusz, Ryan Webb, Wesley Wright, and Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia.

Position players are Manny Machado, Everth Cabrera, Jonathan Schoop, Delmon Young, Alejandro De Aza, Adam Jones, Steve Pearce, Travis Snider, Ryan Flaherty, Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger.

As expected the O’s placed Matt Wieters, Jimmy Paredes, J.J. Hardy and David Lough on the disabled list. All except Paredes are backdated to March 27 with Paredes backdated to April 1.

Os await roster deadline

SARASOTA, Fla.— The Orioles have to set their Opening Day roster by 3 p.m. ET today and they’re still trying to make a trade to give them some flexibility.

Assuming nothing happens they will take take 13 pitchers and 12 position players, with the roster changing immediately after Game 1 as Chris Davis’ suspension ends. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Orlando yesterday that Nolan Reimold was going to start in Triple-A which was one of the final camp decisions. I’ve written before that they didn’t want Reimold to be on the team and then lose him on waivers when they had to make a roster move early on.

It’s expected to be  pitchers Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman, Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Brad Brach, Brian Matusz, Wesley Wright, and Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia.

Position players are expected to be Manny Machado, Everth Cabrera, Jonathan Schoop, Delmon Young, Alejandro De Aza, Adam Jones, Steve Pearce, Travis Snider, Ryan Flaherty, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Lavarnway and Steve Clevenger.

Nix and Janish re-assigned

The Orioles reassigned Jayson Nix and Paul Janish to Minor League camp following Friday’s game, trimming their spring roster to 33.

The O’s must set their Opening Day roster by 3 p.m. ET on Sunday and have just a few decisions remaining. They will put four guys on the disabled list -David Lough, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Jimmy Paredes– and Chris Davis is on the restricted list for one more game which brings them to 28. There’s also plans to remove Ryan Webb from the 40-man which would mean just two more decisions.

Janish had bone chips removed from his elbow earlier this spring and missed the first portion of camp, playing in 10 games and batting .125. Nix went 8-for-38 in 27 games.

“I do know talking to a lot of people I trust, there’s another level there [with Nix]…and Jayson was on a playoff roster last year, we hope those guys both stay and play,” manager Buck Showalter said.

The plan is for Janish to play shortstop at Triple-A and Nix will play all over the field.

“I’d be shocked if both of those guys weren’t in the big leagues with us or somebody else this year.”

Showalter stopped short of saying Everth Cabrera is now guaranteed a spot, though he did say the infielder has looked a lot more comfortable over the final week of spring. Cabrera has gotten 25 at-bats, among the most this spring, which was by design as the O’s wanted to evaluate the new infielder.

Os name Norris for home opener, Paredes likely to DL

The Orioles officially named Bud Norris as the starter for the home opener in Baltimore, which was expected. The O’s could wait until a few days after they start playing before they name their fifth guy though, as manager Buck Showalter said the could use that fifth starter out of the bullpen early on. And, with an off day on Thursday, they could also bring back Chris Tillman for the fifth game.

The team’s Opening Day roster continues to shift by the hour, with today’s news that Jimmy Paredes will likely be headed to the disabled list. Paredes who is out of options, had a monster spring and looked to be a lock to the make the club after David Lough went down with an injury. Paredes went 20-for-55 (.364) at the plate and suffered a low back strain while in the weight room a few days ago, according to Showalter.

At first glance, it looks as if this move could help Nolan Reimold –who is also having a great spring– make the club. But Showalter also pointed out that the club is now considering going with 13 pitchers to start the season, which would allow them to have Kevin Gausman and Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia in the bullpen to start the season. They will still need to make a roster spot after the first game for Chris Davis.

Paredes –who last played Tuesday– would be eligible to come off the disabled list on April 16 and joins a trio of O’s slated to be put on the DL: Lough, Matt Wieters and shortstop J.J. Hardy.

While Reimold could provide an offensive boost, he’s out of options and the Orioles would likely lose him on waivers if they had to make another roster move to add one of those DL guys (or Davis) back early on. They obviously don’t want to do that, and would rather have him in Triple-A as an extended option later on. So, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Orioles home finale

The Orioles will play their final spring home game today and most of the regulars will play their final game in general. Manager Buck Showalter isn’t bringing any of his starters to Orlando on Saturday.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Alejandro De Aza LF
Steve Pearce DH
Chris Davis 1B
Adam Jones CF
Travis Snider RF
Manny Machado 3B
Everth Cabrera SS
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Caleb Joseph C

Ubaldo Jimenez RHP

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