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How close are Orioles to having final 25?

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How close are Orioles to having final 25?

How close are the Orioles to having the 25 players they’ll take north? I’d say pretty close.

I’ll pick 24 players that I think will run down the orange carpet on March 31. I’ll cop out on the 25th because I think it will be another starting pitcher who’s not yet signed.

Barring injuries, the top four starters are Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris. Chen had knee surgery right after the season, and his progress will be an intriguing question during spring training.

Kevin Gausman who should be a mainstay in the rotation for some years, will probably start the season at Norfolk.

And, I think the fifth starter will be a player who’s signed between now and the opening of spring training on Feb. 13.

If the Orioles don’t sign another closer, and it’s looking doubtful they will, Tommy Hunter should start the season in Jim Johnson’s old role. He’ll be backed up by Darren O’Day, Ryan Webb and Brian Matusz.

With Troy Patton gone for the first 25 games due to a suspension, I would guess the other three relievers will be Zach Britton, Steve Johnson and Josh Stinson.

Britton would be a second left-hander in addition to Matusz. He’s out of options, and while he could be the fifth starter, Britton could prove his value as a reliever.

Stinson pitched very well in September and could be the most versatile pitcher in the pen. Last year, Johnson had a troubled season due to injuries and ineffectiveness, and he could beat out a host of others for the 12th spot.

If Johnson isn’t the choice, Brad Brach, Kelvin De La Cruz, Edgmer Escalona and Chris Jones could sneak onto the roster.

T.J. McFarland is probably headed to Norfolk where he can start and help the team later on in a variety of roles.

The skirmish for Matt Wieters’ backup will be another interesting spring training storyline. Steve Clevenger seems to have the advantage for now.

Johnny Monell, acquired from the Giants last month, will challenge Clevenger. Both are left-handed hitters. If he doesn’t win the job, Monell and David Freitas, picked up in the Johnson trade from Oakland, could be Norfolk’s catchers.

The infield looks set with Chris Davis, Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado. Once the Orioles didn’t re-sign Brian Roberts or aggressively pursue free agents at second, Flaherty got the advantage at second. It looks as if the Orioles would prefer Jonathan Schoop get more second base experience at Norfolk.

Alexi Casilla’s return gives him the edge for the utility infield job. Casilla plays mostly second and short, and Flaherty could move over to third if Machado isn’t ready to start the season.

That leaves six spots for outfielders and designated hitters. Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and most likely David Lough are the starters in right, center and left.

Delmon Young’s addition as a right-handed DH leaves two openings.

If he’s healthy, Nolan Reimold should get one of them. If he’s not, Steve Pearce would probably slide in to that spot.

Lough is a left-handed hitter, and the Orioles would probably want a second left-hander who could DH. Henry Urrutia is probably the favorite for now.

Urrutia will continue to work on his outfield play, but he’ll be looked on as the DH. The Orioles have a host of other outfield candidates: Francisco Peguero, Quintin Berry, Julio Borbon, Xavier Paul, and perhaps Jack Cust, who’s having an audition at the team’s minicamp in Sarasota today.

Peguero is on the 40-man roster and is a right-handed hitter. The others are not on the 40 and all are left-handers.

The guess is that Urrutia gets the final outfield/DH spot.

Berry could see time in Baltimore during the season, but it’s hard to see manager Buck Showalter wanting to take a pinch-running specialist north.

It’s also hard seeing Rule 5 draft pick Michael Almanzar making the club, especially with Young’s signing.

Even though Jemile Weeks is on the 40-man roster, it’s difficult to see him beating out Casilla for the utility spot.

Before, and even during spring training, other names will pop into the mix.

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

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USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm