Two Battles Rage for Fifth-Starter Spots in AL East

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Two Battles Rage for Fifth-Starter Spots in AL East As the Red Sox deal with getting their roster in order for the regular season, so do their AL East rivals.

The Baltimore Orioles have been dealing with an injury to star second baseman Brian Roberts, who has been suffering from a back injury the past two weeks but has long maintained that he will be ready for Opening Day. Given that he expects to play in spring-training games by the end of the week, it looks as if Roberts will indeed suit up for the O's on April 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays are trying to figure out who their fifth starter will be: rookie Wade Davis or youngster Andy Sonnanstine, who was so crucial to Tampa Bay's 2008 AL pennant. According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, flamethrower Davis is likely to get the honor. That leaves Sonnanstine ticketed for the bullpen — or traded.

A battle for the fifth spot in the rotation also rages within the New York Yankees camp. Chad Gaudin was put on waivers Tuesday and Alfredo Aceves put up a stinker Saturday that has him headed for the bullpen. That leaves Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Sergio Mitre as last men standing. The next to fall looks to be Chamberlain, according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman. The right-hander allowed two runs and six hits over five innings in an intrasquad game Monday. Hughes remains the favorite to claim the spot.

All is quiet in Toronto for the Blue Jays in what figures to be a painful rebuilding season. The rotation is very much in flux, with Dustin McGowan's return from shoulder surgery hitting a bump in the road. Newcomer Brandon Morrow has complained of shoulder soreness, but he should still be on track to open the year in the rotation. Journeyman Brian Tallet was lit up Monday by the Tigers, and he could lose his rotation spot to Dana Eveland, who was acquired from Oakland in the offseason.

As for the Red Sox, two spots in their bullpen look to be up for grabs, with Scott Atchison, Boof Bonser, Alan Embree, Joe Nelson and Brian Shouse all in contention. There is also a battle for the backup infielder spot, although Mike Lowell has a grip on that job until — or if — he's traded.

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