BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are in it to win it this year. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said on Saturday that he has ownership's full backing to add pieces externally if need be. Baltimore entered the day 1 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East, and will approach the Trade Deadline as buyers.
"We're in contention, and we need to look at all the options we have to help our team," Duquette said. "But we have some pretty good options in our Minor League system to bolster the team that we have here."
Speaking to season-ticket holders as part of the club's annual "State of the Orioles" address before the game against the Nationals, along with manager Buck Showalter, Duquette told the group assembled that principal owner Peter Angelos "wants to win this year." He reiterated that sentiment in a meeting with the media, saying that he "absolutely" had the support of Orioles ownership to do whatever he feels is in the team's best interest.
"We are in contention, so we are going to do whatever we can to make the playoffs," said Duquette, who inherited an organization with 14 consecutive losing seasons when he was hired this winter.
The club was in a decidedly different state at the Trade Deadline the last four years, trading away relievers George Sherrill, Will Ohman and Koji Uehara, and first baseman Derrek Lee in the hopes of bringing back something for the future.
Duquette -- who has stressed building the organization by strengthening the farm system and through international efforts -- made it clear he wouldn't sacrifice the Orioles' top prospects, but he wouldn't hesitate to make a move that betters this year's club without crippling the farm system.
"I like to build an organization so that we have depth throughout the organization," Duquette said.
O's still deciding plan for rotation next week
BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter is keeping mum on the team's rotation following Monday's off-day, although he did concede that the team's preference would be to start both Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen.
If that is the case, Hammel would pitch Wednesday and Chen on Thursday, with Tuesday's starter possibly being Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter or Brian Matusz if the team decides to use an internal option.
The recent performances of Triple-A Norfolk arms Chris Tillman and Zach Britton could factor in, too, as both young starters are throwing well and providing the organization with some depth. At Norfolk, Tillman has pitched to a 3.76 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 83 2/3 innings. Britton has also gotten progressively better in his four starts since coming off the disabled list, most recently allowing only two runs on four hits in six innings on Thursday.
Showalter said Hunter -- who last pitched on Tuesday -- could be used in the bullpen if necessary over the next few days, as long man Dana Eveland left the team after Saturday's game and will likely be placed on three-day paternity leave on Sunday. If Hunter is used in relief, that would change things for the Orioles, who are set to open a three-game set with the Angels on Tuesday.
"We think we got an idea, but something could change," Showalter said of the rotation. "We know at some point [Eveland is] going to be leaving us. I know he's getting tired of me, instead of asking how he's doing, asking how [his wife is] doing. But that's imminent, and that's a moving target. [I] can't really ask Mother Nature to cooperate with us. ... He said the baby's at 10 pounds now; it can't be too long."
Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy went five scoreless innings with two strikeouts for Class A Frederick on Saturday. The 19-year-old righty allowed two hits and walked two, lowering his ERA to 3.42 in the 60-pitch outing.
Dontrelle Willis was scratched from his first scheduled start with Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday due to an illness.
J.C. Romero can opt out of his contract around the All-Star break, so the organization will have to make a decision on whether he fits with the big league club around that time. Romero was placed on the temporary inactive list on Saturday for Triple-A as he deals with a personal matter back home, but has thrown 10 1/3 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts. Third baseman Miguel Tejada does not have an opt-out clause, as the two sides have an agreement that as long as both sides are OK with it, he can remain in Triple-A.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.