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Orioles’ final spring training cut Jackson elects to retire

Posted on 14 April 2013 by Luke Jones

After being the final cut of spring training when the Orioles selected their 25-man roster to begin the 2013 season, outfielder Conor Jackson has chosen to retire after just nine games with Triple-A Norfolk.

Jackson was a safe bet to join the Orioles at some point this season based on the fluidity of last year’s roster and the early struggles of outfielder Steve Pearce, but the 30-year-old retired after a 5-for-25 start with the Tides. In 22 Grapefruit League games, Jackson hit three home runs and drove in six runs as he was strongly considered for a roster spot before manager Buck Showalter chose Steve Pearce for the final bench spot.

Showalter told reporters prior to the Orioles’ series finale in the Bronx that Jackson was simply at a stage in his life where he no longer wanted to continue playing. However, the manager said he respected Jackson’s decision and wished him well.

His career nearly ended in 2009 when he was diagnosed with Valley fever, a serious disease most common in the southwest that can cause fever, headaches, and joint and muscle pain. The condition limited him to just 30 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks that season after he was a .300 hitter in 144 games in 2008.

After two ineffective seasons in which he split time with Oakland and Boston, Jackson spent the entire 2012 season with Triple-A Charlotte in the Chicago White Sox system and performed well enough to earn the spring invitation to Sarasota with the Orioles earlier this year.

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Orioles’ 25-man roster set as Pearce grabs final spot

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have set their 25-man roster for the start of the regular season as outfielder Steve Pearce won the final bench spot on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Pearce beat out fellow outfielder Conor Jackson after both complete strong Grapefruit League performances. The right-handed batter will likely serve as the club’s designated hitter against left-handed pitching to begin the season.

As expected, manager Buck Showalter named right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta his fourth starter and left-hander Brian Matusz will pitch out of the bullpen to begin the season. Next Friday will mark the third consecutive time Arrieta has taken the hill in the home opener.

Utility players Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla and catcher Taylor Teagarden will occupy three of the club’s four bench spots to begin the season. Flaherty became all but a certainty to make the team following the knee injury suffered by corner infielder and designated hitter Wilson Betemit earlier this week.

The bench took a substantial hit after Betemit tore the PCL in his right knee as Showalter would have had either Betemit, Nolan Reimold, or Nate McLouth off the bench on a typical night, depending on the pitching matchup. However, Casilla provides a base-stealing threat while Flaherty will serve as the primary pinch hitter against right-handed pitching.

Showalter must decide whether he will keep Rule 5 selection T.J. McFarland in the bullpen beyond the first few days of the season after the left-hander was told he made the team to begin the season.

The 23-year-old impressed this spring but must remain on the 25-man roster in order to stay with the organization. The decision to send fifth starter Chris Tillman to the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 22) was made in order to buy time for the Orioles to either trade another relief pitcher or to work out a deal with the Cleveland Indians — McFarland’s original club — that would allow them to option McFarland to the minor leagues.

Right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson is expected to be placed on the DL as he deals with a back injury.

Teams have until 3 p.m. on Sunday to finalize their 25-man rosters for the start of the regular season.

Here’s a look at where the roster stands right now, including a projected lineup:

RF Nick Markakis
LF Nate McLouth
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
DH Nolan Reimold
3B Manny Machado
2B Brian Roberts

INF Alexi Casilla
UTI Ryan Flaherty
C Taylor Teagarden
OF Steve Pearce

RHP Jason Hammel
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Jake Arrieta

RHP Jim Johnson
RHP Pedro Strop
RHP Darren O’Day
LHP Brian Matusz
LHP Troy Patton
RHP Luis Ayala
RHP Tommy Hunter
LHP T.J. McFarland

RHP Chris Tillman (will become fifth starter on April 6)
INF Wilson Betemit
RHP Steve Johnson
LHP Tsuyoshi Wada

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