Orioles Decide To Keep Klein In Relief

SARASOTA, Fla.Dan Klein was one of college baseball's top closers at UCLA last year, and the Orioles will keep him in the bullpen for at least part of this season.

Director of scouting Joe Jordan envisioned Klein eventually moving into a starting role after taking him in the third round of the 2010 draft. Apparently, that plan has been put on hold.

"I think they're going to keep me in the 'pen," Klein told MASNsports.com. "It's not permanent and they're leaving the option open for me to start down the road, whether it be later this year or the start of next year. I feel real comfortable out of the 'pen. We just thought as a group this would be the best decision for this year."

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Klein helped UCLA reach the 2010 College World Series by going 6-1, 1.90 with 10 saves in 52 innings, with 11 walks and 55 strikeouts. Since he wasn't ready to handle a starter's workload, the Orioles kept him in the bullpen at short-season Aberdeen, and Klein responded by surrendering only one hit in 61⁄3 scoreless innings—opponents went 1-for-21 against him.

Why mess with a good thing?

Because he can command four pitches, Klein still might project as a starter down the road. However, he's perfectly content to close this season, perhaps at low Class A Delmarva.

"I loved it," he said. "It was my first time being a true closer. I loved the late innings and felt real comfortable there and had a great routine. My body feels great, my arm feels great. My arm is as healthy as can be right now.

"In the future, I have no problem with starting. It's probably going to happen at some point. For now, this will help me get established and see what I can do. Just to get my feet wet a little bit."

Bird Seed

• Brandon Snyder was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after hitting .343/.395/.543 with four doubles, one homer and six RBIs in 35 at-bats. Snyder was drafted as a catcher and worked out behind the plate in camp, but he'll start at first base with the Tides.

• Righthander Josh Rupe, signed to a minor league deal with a spring invite, thrust himself into the bullpen discussion by not allowing an earned run in 11 2/3 innings. The Orioles stretched him out in case he begins the season as a long reliever. Otherwise, he could start or relieve at Norfolk.