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Baltimore Orioles: Spring Training Information
[ April 5, 2009 at 12:32 PM ] [ ] [ Full Story ]  [ Filed under: Orioles | Top ]
[ Tagged: , , ]
By Neal Shaffer
Location: Fort Lauderdale Stadium
Pitchers and Catchers Report: February 14th
First Game: February 25th
Schedule

Projected Opening Day Lineup:

1. Brian Roberts (2B)
2. Melvin Mora (3B)
3. Nick Markakis (RF)
4. Luke Scott (DH)
5. Aubrey Huff (1B)
6. Adam Jones (CF)
7. Gregg Zaun (C)
8. Felix Pie (LF)
9. Cesar Izturis (SS)

Projected Rotation:

1. Jeremy Guthrie
2. Koji Uehara
3. Rich Hill
4. Chris Waters
5. Hayden Penn

Projected Bullpen:

Long: Mark Hendrickson
Situational: Dennis Sarfate, Jim Johnson, Jamie Walker, John Parrish
8th/Closer: Chris Ray
Closer/8th: George Sherrill

Bench:

Ryan Freel, Chris Gomez, Ty Wigginton, backup catcher TBD
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Key Battles:

Year Two of the rebuilding process begins with the Orioles in a far better position than they were at this time last year. Team president Andy MacPhail has stocked the farm system while systematically jettisoning dead weight. Even the national media has started to take notice, with SI writer Tom Verducci recently noting that the Orioles are "on the right track."

That's not to say there isn't drama. Only three pitching spots can safely be considered locks heading into spring: Guthrie/Ueahara at the front of the rotation and Sherrill at the back of the bullpen. Everything else in those projections above is - literally - nothing more than an educated guess.

Other pitchers in the mix include Brad Hennessey, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, David Pauley, Radhames Liz, Scott Chiasson, Andy Mitchell, Freddy Deza, Ross Wolf, Jim Hoey, Danys Baez, Brian Bass, Alfredo Simon, and Jim Miller. And perhaps even a few other guys, depending on how it goes.

Among that group, several pitchers (Hendrickson, Parrish, Albers, and Patton in particular) could compete for both the rotation and the bullpen..

It'll be organized chaos down in Fort Lauderdale. The guys who get spots will have earned them, for sure, and the AAA roster at Norfolk should be teeming with depth if and when the initial choices fail to perform when called.

The positional roster, in contrast, is all but settled. The only real question involves the mix at 1B/DH/bench, with Scott, Wigginton, and Huff figuring to rotate. Freel and Gomez provide solid depth in the utility spots, while Zaun is generally seen as bridging the gap until top prospect Matt Wieters is ready to assume the catching duties. Look for that to happen in May or June.

What to Expect:

At least a few surprises. With that many questions in the rotation and bullpen, odds are that somebody will step and surprise just as somebody else disappoints. There's also an outside chance of a trade, with Brian Roberts (contract issues) and Luke Scott (who might not be happy in a bench/DH role) the most likely candidates to be moved.

In terms of the bigger picture, look for the Orioles to showcase a potent offense and very slick defense throughout the year. We should see signs of that in the spring, and they figure to be, at the very least, a fun team to watch this year.

Neal follows the Orioles on his blog, The Loss Column.

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