03/22/11 6:00 PM ET
Orioles charting Lee's progress
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"We will make the decision about 2 o'clock [on Wednesday] -- might be earlier than that, [about] whether he goes," Showalter said of Lee's availability for the Orioles' 7 p.m. ET game against the Twins in Fort Myers, Fla. "We wouldn't take him unless he's going to play first base. I'd do what we did here at home [in-game], but I'm not going to do it over there in the night game."
Lee, who had previously been sidelined with right wrist/thumb injuries, fouled a ball off his left foot in his first spring at-bat on Saturday. He underwent X-rays that night and had an MRI exam on Sunday morning, and he was cleared to play in Tuesday's game after testing his foot in the morning.
Lee got his first at-bat -- replacing Vladimir Guerrero -- two outs into the fifth inning, and he grounded out to shortstop, clearly laboring down the basepaths.
"We told him to do that," Showalter said of Lee running about half-speed. "[He's a] pretty impressive guy, with his background. He knows how important these at-bats are. I talked to him and Vladdy -- guys [like that] might [typically believe] it's a little beneath them to get at-bats at the end [of the game], but it's part of the process. He wants them."
In his second at-bat, Lee flied out to shallow center field in the eighth inning. He's 0-for-4 with a walk through two Grapefruit League games, but the Orioles remain cautiously optimistic that Lee will be ready to go for Opening Day on April 1.
Second baseman Brian Roberts, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored, will not play in Wednesday's game, according to Showalter. On Tuesday, Roberts -- who has been sidelined by back spasms -- played in his first game since March 7 on Sunday in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is hitting .278 this spring.
Andino won't sweat what he can't control
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Last spring, Robert Andino would scour websites and media outlets, keeping up with all opinions and implications of the Orioles' mid-spring trade for infielder Julio Lugo. The result wasn't favorable on any front, as Andino admittedly stressed himself out and was one of the club's final cuts of camp, ultimately passing through waivers and spending the entire season at Triple-A Norfolk.
This year, Andino -- who is competing for one of the O's final bench spots -- is in arguably the same position, although he says his outlook is much improved.
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"You learn a few things," said the 26-year-old Andino, who is in the mix for a roster spot along with catchers Craig Tatum and Jake Fox and outfielder Nolan Reimold.
"You don't take anything for granted, I know that. That type of thing [with the roster], I'm not stressing. Do I want to be on this team? Yeah. I've been here for a few years -- [these are] good guys. But in this game, you don't know what will happen. You just sit back, and when my name is called, I'll play my best and try to force [their hand]. We will see what happens."
While Fox -- who hit his eighth homer of the spring in Tuesday's game against the Yankees -- appears nearly certain to make the O's, manager Buck Showalter has made it clear that the team would prefer to have Fox serve as a backup catcher, not a utility man. That would help Andino, who would be the odd man out -- along with Reimold -- should the club take both Tatum and Fox. While Andino is primarily a middle infielder, and Cesar Izturis is penciled in as the team's primary middle-infield backup, Showalter said on Tuesday that the club feels Andino can play other positions.
"Robert can play center field, he played third base last year, [he can play] shortstop, second base," Showalter said. "It has nothing to do with it, having an option or not having an option. It's, 'Is he our best fit?' The only time you use the word option is, 'Is he our best option to be an extra guy?' He's got a chance. He's in the competition."
Andino entered Tuesday hitting .256 with two homers, two doubles, a triple and nine RBIs in 21 spring games and acknowledged that it's hard to "take the emotion" out of every at-bat, the way Showalter has preached.
"You try to show them every at-bat what you can do," Andino said. "I always want to show people what I can do. You get a little frustrated in this game, because who doesn't want to play every day, who doesn't want to be on a Major League roster? But [taking the emotion out] is something I've got to learn. It's something about baseball that I'm learning. Baby steps. I'm working on it."
Next step in recovery awaits Duchscherer
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles starter Justin Duchscherer said the range of motion in his left hip is getting better, and the next step is for the right-hander -- who is still a rotation hopeful -- to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.
"I feel like I can get to about my 85-90 percent effort level," said Duchscherer, who has been throwing on flat ground the last few days.
"Once I get to kind of game speed, getting over that hip on the mound with a slope, it puts me at a different range than what I get when I just play long toss. So [on Wednesday], I'm going to try to test it out and see where we go from there. We'll probably start flat and then maybe the half [mound] and then maybe go from there."
Duchscherer has been slowed all spring with left hip soreness -- he had season-ending surgery on the area last year -- but given the Orioles' early off-days, there is still a chance he ends up in the team's rotation. In that scenario, the O's would likely take an extra reliever and go with a quartet of Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Brad Bergesen, leaving Chris Tillman and top pitching prospect Zach Britton to start the season in Triple- A.
"[Manager Buck Showalter] had me come in the other day, and we went over how I'm feeling [and] what I'm thinking," said Duchscherer, who has pitched two innings this spring. "They probably won't need a fifth starter until the 10th [of April], so I told them I'll do everything I can to get well by then, and hopefully I can. That's the goal."
Tillman and Britton are still in contention for the fifth starter spot, although Tillman has the edge given that the organization doesn't want to start Britton's service clock. If Duchscherer can get healthy, the assumption is he will be in the O's rotation, providing depth and keeping some of the other arms vying for a spot at Triple-A.
Right-handed reliever Koji Uehara threw one inning against Red Sox Minor Leaguers on Tuesday, striking out one in the 12-pitch outing. He threw 11 strikes and said afterward that his right elbow felt good. ... Righty Kevin Gregg faced five batters in a Minor League game and allowed two hits, also hitting a batter. He struck out two and threw 23 pitches, 16 of which were strikes. "I felt good today," Gregg said. "I got my mechanics back to where they need to be." ... Brendan Harris is going to be sidelined for a few days after getting a mole on his back removed. Harris, a utility infielder, is a long shot to make the club. ... Right-hander Chris Tillman pitched to Red Sox Class A Advanced hitters and recorded 22 outs over six innings (with some extended). He allowed an earned run on seven hits and four strikeouts. ... The Orioles will meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss their next round of cuts. An announcement could come prior to that day's 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Twins.
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.