04/02/09 5:56 PM ET
Eaton awaits word on rotation spot
Veteran righty expects to start, but O's have yet to confirm
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
"They haven't said anything," Eaton said. "But I imagine one of the first five games."
Orioles manager Dave Trembley was even more cryptic.
"Let me go in and get a diet soda and think about it," Trembley said.
And so, despite two months of evaluations and all indications pointing to Eaton making the O's rotation, the final decision has yet to be made. Eaton is still technically competing for a slots in the rotation, after Trembley officially named Mark Hendrickson as a starter earlier in the day.
With that in mind, Eaton allowed five runs in five innings to the Mets on Thursday, dancing in and out of trouble throughout the first three innings before allowing all five runs in the fourth and fifth. Eaton walked two batters and served up nine hits, three of them for extra bases. His Grapefruit League ERA finished at 7.29 in 21 innings, hardly an endorsement.
"I wish I would have made the decision a little easier for them," Eaton said. "But I know that if the decision's made that I'm on the staff, they're going to be pleased with that decision."
Of the candidates to make the rotation, only Simon -- the pitcher seemingly most secure -- has another start left this spring. Hendrickson completed his body of work with a 4.50 ERA, four strikeouts and no walks in 12 innings. Brian Bass, who could wind up in the bullpen, produced a 2.19 ERA, six strikeouts and four walks in 12 1/3 innings. Alfredo Simon, who has made the rotation, has trumped them all by allowing just two earned runs so far. The final competitor, Hayden Penn, was traded to the Marlins on Wednesday for backup infielder Robert Andino.
Eaton, a veteran of nine big league seasons, has now finished stating his case. Time for the jury to decide.
"They haven't told me for sure, but all signs obviously point for me making the rotation," Eaton said. "If it happens, I'm very happy."
Orioles extras: The Orioles reassigned catcher Robby Hammock and infielder Jolbert Cabrera to Minor League camp on Thursday, handing the backup catching job to Chad Moeller. ... Luke Scott, starting at first base for the first time this spring, finished 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. "He did a very nice job," Trembley said.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.