BALTIMORE, April 2 -- Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli used every bit of time he had available to make decisions he considered very difficult. With the deadline for finalizing the roster at 25 players set for Saturday, the Orioles waited until the final day to announce their Opening Day team.
Infielder Chris Gomez and pitcher Rick Bauer made the cut over infielder Enrique Wilson and pitchers Jay Witasick and Eric DuBose. Outfielder Ramon Nivar, acquired on Wednesday from the Texas Rangers for Matt Riley, and DuBose were optioned to Class AAA Ottawa. Witasick and Wilson, signed to minor league deals, were considering accepting an assignment to the team's minor league camp. Wilson and Witasick can become free agents if they decline the assignment.
"I don't know that at this point," Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jim Beattie said. "We've talked to them about that possibility. You want to give them 48 hours to come to grips on this."
Wilson (.315 average) and Gomez (.328) had good camps. Gomez seemed to have an edge because he was signed to a major league deal. The Orioles would have had to pay him a full guaranteed salary even if the team cut him.
"We feel like we got some guys on the bench that can contribute offensively and defensively," Beattie said.
Wilson's relationship with Mazzilli -- the two were with the New York Yankees three years ago -- did not help.
"It's a tough decision you have to make when you have a relationship with somebody," Mazzilli said.
Bauer finished a close second to Bruce Chen in the fight for the fifth spot in the rotation. Pitching coach Ray Miller likes Bauer, and it's not inconceivable to think Bauer will get an opportunity to make a few starts this year.
"I feel better about our 25-man roster this year than I did last year," Beattie said.