Orioles expect to welcome a familiar cast to spring training
BALTIMORE (AP) There probably won’t be much intrigue for the Baltimore Orioles at spring training.
When the team holds its first workout next week in Sarasota, Florida, most of the roster spots already will be decided. That’s because very little has changed since Baltimore lost to Toronto last October in the AL wild card game.
Dan Duquette, the Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations, retained free agent slugger Mark Trumbo as part of a power-laden lineup that led the majors in home runs.
Duquette also kept intact a bullpen that ranks among the best in the majors and did very little tinkering with the starting pitching.
Spring training for the Orioles will be about filling out the back end of the roster, lining up his rotation for April and, most of all, staying healthy.
Here’s what it won’t be: A glimpse of what might happen in the regular season.
A year ago, the Orioles their Grapefruit League schedule with 10 straight losses wrapped around a pair of ties – a development that made the fan base in Baltimore more than a little uneasy.
”In spring we were 0-8 or 0-9. Nobody even remembers that,” manager Buck Showalter said. ”Some of the evaluations we made during that time really helped us. I’m really looking forward to this spring because I think our guys are ready to get on with it.”
That includes Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, who batted .178 during spring training last year but found his groove in May. Now that he’s comfortable in the big leagues, Kim won’t have anything to prove or learn at camp.
The games start early (Feb. 24) this year because of the World Baseball Classic, but Showalter says he probably won’t play his regulars until the first week of March.
”We’ve got plenty of games and plenty of time,” he said.
Some things to know about the Orioles this spring:
NEW LOOK: The Orioles were unwilling to retain pricey free agent catcher Matt Wieters, so they signed Welington Castillo. So a key component of camp is making sure Castillo and the pitching staff are in sync. Showalter also must determine how to use corner outfielder Seth Smith, who came from Seattle in a trade for right-hander Yovani Gallardo. Left-hander Wade Miley will attend his first spring training with the Orioles, seeking to earn a spot in the rotation after struggling with Baltimore over the final two months last season.
ROOKIES TO WATCH: Rule 5 additions Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander, both outfielders, will receive an extensive playing time this spring. ”We have some young kids I really want to take a look at, especially those two Rule 5 guys,” Showalter said. Hard-hitting Trey Mancini will also be scrutinized after hitting three homers in five games last September.
THEY’RE SET: The infield – Chris Davis at first base, Jonathan Schoop at second, J.J. Hardy at shortstop and Manny Machado at third base – won’t change. Nor will the back end of the bullpen, anchored by closer Zach Britton and setup men Brad Brach and Darren O’Day. Half-kidding, O’Day suggested he might be pitching in the fifth inning after the impressive 2016 performances of relievers Mychal Givens (8-2, 3.16 ERA) and Donnie Hart (0.49 ERA in 22 games).
THEY’RE NOT: Center fielder Adam Jones wants to be surrounded by stronger gloves than Kim (LF) and Trumbo (RF). ”We don’t need more power. I think that’s prevalent. We don’t need more offense. I think we need to improve the outfield defense,” Jones said.
ON DECK: Showalter will tinker with his outfield defense, go easy on the starting rotation and leave behind a vast majority his starting position players when the team is on the road.