JUPITER, Fla., March 26 -- The Baltimore Orioles are still undecided on a fifth starter. Rick Bauer, who allowed one run in two innings in Saturday's 7-3 win against the Florida Marlins, has emerged as the leader. He has a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings this spring but several scouts said they have been impressed with Bauer's splitter. The scouts mentioned that his slider continues to improve. Pitching coach Ray Miller declined to say which pitcher was his favorite for that slot, though he smiled when asked about Bauer.
"I just think he came to spring training in tremendous shape," Miller said. "I think he's matured quite a bit."
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Graphic: Projected Starters
Graphic: Fort Lauderdale Stadium
"I was just trying to make the club," Bauer said. "What I did last year I think opened a few eyes at the end of the year. The way I've pitched down here, I've pitched pretty good. So they decided to throw me in the mix apparently."
Matt Riley, who pitched in a minor league game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, likely will be traded. Several teams, including Texas and Minnesota, have expressed interest in Riley. It appears though that neither the Rangers nor Twins were able to match up on a trade.
Bruce Chen is also a candidate, but Miller seems to like him as a reliever. Manager Lee Mazzilli said he won't likely make a decision on the last spot in the rotation until the end of this week.
Mazzilli said he likely will begin the season with 12 pitchers, opening another spot for a reliever. Unless there is a trade, Jorge Julio, B.J. Ryan, Steve Kline and Steve Reed are certainties in the bullpen. Jay Witasick, John Parrish, Todd Williams, and Chen are competing for three spots. If Riley isn't traded, then he is also a candidate for the bullpen. Chen and Riley are both out of options, meaning they can't be sent to the minors without exposing them to waivers. "I think you have to look at all things considered," Mazzilli said. "You can't put a blind eye to anything."
Carrying 12 pitchers means either Chris Gomez or Enrique Wilson will make the team, but not both.