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Hendrickson retires

SARASOTA, Fla.— Veteran pitcher Mark Hendrickson has announced he’s retired from baseball as a player as the 40-year-old —a non-roster invitee with Baltimore this spring— explores other options including remaining with the Orioles in another role.

“It’d be something I’d be interested in this year, yeah,” said Hendrickson, who arranged a conference call with the Orioles media to break the news in a fair manner.  “To me the big question, what does it really look like and I think that’s something that’s a little bit of an unknown. Coaching, front office, advisor role, lot of different things.”

Hendrickson played 10 years in Major League Baseball, the last three of which were with the O’s, from 2009-‘11. He reinvented himself as a sidearm pitcher in 2013 and was signed by the O’s, advancing as high as Triple-A Norfolk. He spent last season pitching for the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League where he posted a 1.54 ERA over 52 2/3 innings.

He went 58-74 with a career 5.03 ERA in 328 games (166 starts) and was released by the O’s this spring on March 16. Hendrickson— who also played professional basketball— didn’t rule out a third sport, noting  that golf was always an option, too.

“[Retiring] is something my wife and I have been talking about during this period of time, especially when we got back from Florida,” Hendrickson said. “I just knew that this is probably the best time to do it prior to the season starting. I know there are a lot of things going on this week with roster decisions and stuff like that.

Os add pair of players

The Orioles acquired a pair of players on Tuesday, getting catcher Audry Perez from the Rockies and signing Jhonathan Ramos out of the independent leagues.

Perez hit .292 with six home runs and 22 RBI in 62 games with Triple-A Memphis in 2014 and will be with the O’s Triple-A team.

Tillman named Opening Day

Brittany Ghiroli/MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla.— As expected, Orioles manager Buck Showalter named Chris Tillman his Opening Day starter on Tuesday afternoon.

It will mark the second consecutive Opening Day assignment for Tillman, who will face the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday. Tillman, 26, went 13-6 with 3.34 ERA in a career high 34 starts.

Tillman pitched 207 1/3 innings in 2014, his second consecutive 200-inning season. The 26-year-old Tillman is 45-31 with a 4.00 ERA in 118 big league starts. Against Tampa Bay he is a career  4-6 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 starts. He’s 1-2 with a 3.41 in five starts at Tropicana Field.

He is expected to be followed by Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez.

Hardy on his DL

SARASOTA, Fla.— Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who will miss the start of the season with a left shoulder strain, said the priority now is to reduce the swelling in the area to help him get back to baseball activities.

“They found exactly what they thought it was,” Hardy said of Monday’s MRI with injected dye. “I didn’t know it was going to take 10 days or whatever they’re saying to get all the swelling out and get the strength back. So that’s a little disappointing, but I guess it could have been a lot worse. I feel better today than I did yesterday. At this rate, who knows how long it’s going to be.”

Hardy, who was injured diving for a ground ball on Friday, would return April 11 at the earliest. Without him, the O’s options at shortstop are Ryan Flaherty and Everth Cabrera who were competing for a roster spot up until this injury. Hardy’s DL stay, coupled with David Lough and Matt Wieters, will test Baltimore’s depth immediately.

“I think one of the strengths of the team is that guys can step in and fill in, whoever that may be on any given night,” said Flaherty. “We’ve just got to hold the fort down until he’s ready to come back and play.”

Cabrera —who has also spent time in the outfield—got the start at shortstop on Tuesday and feels like he’s gotten enough work over there this spring.

“Yeah, I’ve been working out with Bobby Dickerson. [There’s] a couple things he showed me,” Cabrera said. “I feel like I am getting better. You are always going to be better from [camp].”

Hardy still hopes to be with the team for Monday’s Opening Day at Tampa Bay  though he hasn’t sat down to discuss things with manager Buck Showalter. His shoulder has continued to improve since Saturday, which is certainly a good sign, and Hardy agreed he was a little surprised with the shutdown.

“I mean, a little bit. I don’t know how they can make these timetables,” Hardy said. “I feel better. That’s kind of what I’m going off of, so if I’m feeling better, then who knows how long it will be?”

Orioles vs Rays

*David Lough said his back issue has been resolved and now it’s strictly about getting his left hamstring injury resolved as the outfielder —slated to start the season on the disabled list— works his way back.

“It’s disappointing, it’s hard to go into [manager Buck Showalter’s] office and tell him that I’m injured because I’m not injured too often and when I am it’s frustrating,” said Lough, who had some hamstring tightness a few weeks back. :Especially with how well I know my body.  It’s just a minor bump in the road, I’ll look past this when Im done and get some at-bats at [the Minor League facility at] Twin Lakes and get ready to go.”

Lough went 5-for-27 (.185) this spring before he was shut down last week with back spasms that stemmed from picking up balls in the batting cage. He also said his SI joint locked up.

“We think those two were related in the [hamstring] injury,” Lough said. “At that point my hamstring wasn’t 100 percent. Now my back is completely fine, it’s just taking care of my hamstring and getting healthy.”

Lough, who will be eligible to return April 11, isn’t sure of his schedule moving forward or when he could start playing in Minor League games.

“It’s day-by-day, how my hamstring feels,” he said. “Once I can start running and getting out there playing like I used to. One of the big parts of my game is my speed, so when my hamstring is not at 100 percent it’s tough to do that.”

ORIOLES LINEUP

Everth Cabrera SS
Steve Pearce LF
Adam Jones CF
Delmon Young RF
Jimmy Paredes DH
Chris Davis 1B
Manny Machado 3B
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Caleb Joseph C

Kevin Gausman RHP

RAYS LINEUP

David DeJesus RF
John Jaso LF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Desmond Jennings CF
Logan Forsythe 2B
Corey Brown DH
Bobby Wilson C

Everett Teaford LHP

Os reassign J.P. Arencibia

The Orioles have reassigned catcher J.P. Arencibia  to Minor League camp, which puts them at 36 players at big league camp (four non-roster invitees).

Arencibia received a Cortisone injection in his right forearm on Monday morning and is going to be shut down for the next two days. He’s been dealing with a right flexor mass strain. The move leaves non-roster Ryan Lavarnway and Steve Clevenger battling it out for the backup catcher spot behind Caleb Joseph.

Orioles @ Rays

*J.J. Hardy is slated to get an MRA on his left shoulder this morning, though he was pretty encourage with how its progressed.

“I feel much better today than I did yesterday and I felt much better yesterday than I did the day before,” said Hardy, who suffered the injury while diving for a ball in Friday’s game.

Hardy said he feels pretty positive about things and thinks this injury won’t require a trip to the disabled list.

“At this point, the way I feel, the way that it improved over the last few days, yeah, I feel pretty good about it,” he said.

*J.P. Arencibia had a Cortisone injection in his right forearm as he’s dealing with a flexor mass strain that he suffered last week. Arencibia took BP yesterday and said while throwing that something still didn’t feel right so he got the shot and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Alejandro De Aza CF
Nolan Reimold LF
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Delmon Young RF
Travis Snider DH
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Ryan Flaherty 1B
Ryan Lavarnway C
Everth Cabrera SS

Zach Davies RHP

Os leaning toward Gonzalez starting against TB

SARASOTA, Fla.— Miguel Gonzalez will likely pitch in the first series of the year against the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Buck Showalter said on Sunday.

“We’re leaning that way,” Showalter said of pitching Gonzalez at the Rays. “It kind of slots him out the rest of the month where he should be. Like I say, we’ve got a rare opportunity with playing in our division for as much as we do and the track record our starters have there in different venues against different teams and kind of take advantage of that.”

Gonzalez  is 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in five starts at Tropicana Field. Showalter said earlier this spring that Wei-Yin Chen would probably pitch among those first three games as well and Chris Tillman has been widely speculated as the club’s Opening Day starter.

Lough could land on DL

SARASOTA, Fla.— David Lough is not progressing as quickly as the O’s would have hoped with the outfielder —who is dealing with a hamstring/back injury — now a potential to start the season on the disabled list.

Lough, who is 5-for-27 (.185) this spring, hasn’t played in a week and was scratched from Tuesday’s game with what was initially deemed low back spasms. It looks like Baltimore would like to be cautious with Lough’s injury, which would also allow them a way to keep switch-hitter Jimmy Parades, who doubled twice in Dunedin on Sunday. Parades, who is having a fantastic offensive spring, is out of Minor League options and would have to be exposed to waivers if he’s not on the 25-man Opening Day roster.

“It’s beginning to look like [a DL situation] more than it did,” manager Buck Showalter said of Lough. “I was hoping we’d get him out there playing today or tomorrow and not have a problem. He wants to get out there. Talking to him and getting him to be real frank with us, I think he’s actually pushing it a little bit where he shouldn’t.  He knows some of the decisions going on.”

Showalter is planning on using Alejandro De Aza in centerfield on Monday, as Lough’s injury leaves the O’s without a backup centerfielder. Evereth Cabrera has also played some centerfield this spring, though the Orioles want to move him back to the infield in spring’s final week.  He could be an option if he makes the club.

Pregame notes

*The Orioles expect to make around five cuts today, with just one pitcher in the group. Some of what they do also depends on shortstop J.J. Hardy who reported to be feeling better today. The team will know more after he gets an MRA on his left shoulder on Monday.

*Ubaldo Jimenez is pitching on the road against Toronto today, meaning he will face a lineup of Blue Jays regulars. It’s an interesting decision considering the O’s have gone to great lengths to have certain starters avoid their AL East opponents late in spring. The O’s have their home opener, the fourth game of the season, against Toronto.

“The most important thing for him this spring to is to pitch as many innings as he could possible pitch regardless of [the opponent],” Showalter said of Jimenez, who is working on a simplified delivery and trying to bounce back from a disapointing 2014. “If a starting pitcher is on their game it doesn’t matter who they are facing. If they are on their game. There’s certain things that lead to it, but it doesn’t mean they will face him during the season. With the off day [after Game 3] we can do pretty much whatever we want to do.”

*Showalter acknowledged yesterday that it would probably require a trade for the Orioles to keep both Rule 5 Draft pitchers: Logan Verrett and Jason Garcia. Of the two, Verrett –who has allowed two earned runs over 12 innings– appears to be the more likely guy the O’s keep. They really like Garcia as well, but it would be tough to have two more un-optionable pieces in the ‘pen without clearing a spot with a trade of another reliever.

Verrett has impressed the O’s, pounding the strike zone and issuing just one walk all spring, which came back on March 3.

“He’s been as advertised completely,” Showalter said. “I’m a little surprised he’s been just as advertised. Strike-thrower. The whole camp, I’ve been really surprised by the velocity.”

Verrett has been up a tick, hitting 93 mph at times, and Showalter said he had to go back and look at the Rule 5 reports to see if that was what the O’s had.

“So many of the guys in the Rule 5 have been hurt, or they’re a ‘tweener,” Showalter said. “It’s going to hard to carry [Garcia and Verrett]. It affects the rest of the bullpen and our staff if we carry them.”

*David Lough (back) is expected to return to the lineup and start Monday’s game.

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