If the Baltimore Orioles have ever had such a group of outfielders in spring training from which to select for the 25-man roster as they do this year, I certainly don’t recall it. And this entire discussion also connects inextricably to the role of designated hitter.
It would appear that the Orioles will take six guys from the list of 12 candidates to add to five starting infielders and catcher … adding in also a utility infielder and backup catcher for a total of 13 position players (along with 12 pitchers).
The only real “locks” for the six outfielders are Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. Add to that Nelson Cruz, who will be the primary DH, along with indications from Buck that he might play left field against lefty pitching.
Probably the next name floating to the surface is David Lough, who has lived up to his billing as an exciting, hustling player with a mixture also of speed and pop in his bat. In three games he is 4 for 7 with a triple, walk, and stolen base. He has already demonstrated his defensive range and skills. This guy, in my humble prediction, is going to be a huge fan favorite in Baltimore.
So that leaves but two positions, and here is where it gets more interesting and difficult.
Delmon Young has come to camp in great shape and on a mission to revive his career. I think he will do that, but will it be with the Orioles? So far his is 3 of 9 with a double, and by all reports is driving the ball hard in hitting sessions.
Possibly running out of luck this time around is Nolan Reimold. You might say, “He never has had any luck to run out of!” And I would say, “The only luck he has had is bad luck, so running out of that would be lucky for him, right?” Whatever – the hole for Nolan to get out of seems to always get deeper and more difficult. Add to that a food poisoning incident. And right now he is but 1 for 9, and that was an infield hit. I’ve been a big Reimold fan, but even I am getting shaky. I still think he can be a great player, but the window of time to do it here and now may be closing too soon around what is a really good guy. But there is still time for him to make a difference and make the team.
Looking more destined for Norfolk than he did 10 days ago is Henry Urrutia. A sore shoulder has kept him from getting into anything more than a single game as DH. As convinced as I am that the sun came up again this morning, I believe Urrutia is going to have a distinguished career in Baltimore … I just don’t think it is as likely now to be in April or May of this year. And perhaps that is a good thing.
Hitting the ball well this spring is Steve Pearce, who can also play first base. He is currently 5 for 16 with two doubles. As proof that I’m not just a homer for every guy who wears orange, I will say that I’m not a big Pearce advocate. Though I acknowledge he can drive a baseball, there seems to me to be less pure athleticism and upside potential as there is with just about every other player being discussed today. I fear that this could be a case of a veteran hitter who knows how to feast in spring training and put up numbers that are not replicable throughout the season.
And it is really difficult to not like some of the remaining possibilities. How can you not like the incredible speed of Quentin Berry? He is 3 for 8 with a double and a stolen base.
And then again, what is not to like about Julio Borbon – a career .272 hitter with playoff experience with the Rangers? He is 2 for 8 right now. And also Xavier Paul? Though he’s looked a bit shaky on the defense, he is right now 4 for 13 with four RBIs. And Francisco Pequero is 4 for 15 with a triple.
We knew this was going to be an interesting story unfolding in Sarasota for the Baltimore Orioles. And it is going to take some more time and circumstances for it to all sort out.