PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis' sore right elbow has improved greatly, and manager Buck Showalter said that he should return to action on Sunday."He's making good progress," Showalter said. "Every day's a little better. Right now, the plan is for him to play Sunday. I
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis' sore right elbow has improved greatly, and manager Buck Showalter said that he should return to action on Sunday.
"He's making good progress," Showalter said. "Every day's a little better. Right now, the plan is for him to play Sunday. I haven't heard anything to think that's not going to happen."
Davis has not played since March 2, but Showalter thinks that he will have enough at-bats to get ready. The manager added that Davis could stay behind for a few days when the O's head north on March 26 to get additional at-bats in Minor League games if necessary.
Reliever Richard Bleier could miss time with an impacted wisdom tooth, but Showalter said that it hasn't been decided if the left-hander will have the procedure in the next few days.
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Out of options
With the regular season nearing, the Orioles find themselves facing some key roster decisions. And like many clubs, a lot of those choices will impact players who are out of Minor League options.
Technically, the O's have four players on the 40-man roster still in camp who are out of options this spring. But complicating matters further are the club's four Rule 5 Draft picks, who will either break camp with the team, go on the disabled list or be offered back to their original club.
Position-player-wise, Timothy Beckham will make the team as the starting third baseman, and the O's 2016 Rule 5 Draft pick, outfielder Anthony Santander, has had a solid spring and looks poised to head north with a bench spot. Particularly with Mark Trumbo starting the season on the disabled list, Santander could see some early action at designated hitter.
Pitching is where things get complicated. The Orioles selected three pitchers -- Nestor Cortes Jr., Jose Mesa Jr. and Pedro Araujo -- in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, and Mike Wright Jr. and Gabriel Ynoa are both out of options this spring. They're competing for the fifth rotation spot as well as a few relief spots that are still up for grabs. Miguel Castro was granted a fourth option.
Ynoa has been slowed with a shin injury and could very well start the season on the DL to help ease the roster crunch. Wright has pitched well and looks like a leading candidate for that fifth spot, though Cortes could give the O's a much-needed lefty starter. Both guys are also candidates for the long-relief role, and Castro also hasn't been ruled out of the race for either spot.
Mesa hasn't pitched as well as the team hoped, though he did rebound some from a poor spring debut. The O's could keep him and Araujo over guys who have Minor League options, such as Donnie Hart, to bide their time and see if either player can hold his own in the Major Leagues.
While it would be tough to have multiple Rule 5 Draft guys in the bullpen, the Orioles have proven to be masters at roster manipulation, and it would be no surprise if the Opening Day roster changes quickly after the season starts.
Wright will make his fourth Grapefruit League start and fifth appearance when the Orioles host the Blue Jays on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Ed Smith Stadium. Wright, in contention for the Orioles' fifth starter spot, is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA this spring. Listen to the game on Gameday Audio.
Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Orioles on Friday. Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.