Tag Archive | "Wilson Betemit"

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Orioles reinstate Urrutia from restricted list, designate Betemit for assignment

Posted on 16 September 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Monday that they have reinstated outfielder Henry Urrutia from the Restricted List. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, infielder Wilson Betemit has been designated for assignment.

Urrutia, 26, batted .276/.276/.310 in 24 games with the Orioles this season.

Betemit, 31, has appeared in six games for the Orioles in 2013, going hitless in 10 at-bats. He was on the disabled list from March 26 to August 27 with a right knee sprain.

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Orioles activate Betemit from DL, option Flaherty to Single-A Frederick

Posted on 27 August 2013 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Tuesday that they have reinstated infielder Wilson Betemit from the 60-day disabled list and optioned second baseman Ryan Flaherty to Class-A Frederick.

Betemit, 31, is a career .268/.334/.444 hitter in 2325 plate appearances over 10 major league seasons, including a line of .281/.349/.474 in 1757 plate appearances against right-handed pitching. He was placed on the disabled list on March 31 with a right knee ligament sprain. Betemit batted .290/.353/.339 in 17 minor league rehab games with rookie Gulf Coast (five games), Class-A Frederick (four), Double-A Bowie (five) and Triple-A Norfolk (three). He batted .261/.322/.422 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 102 games in 2012, including a line of .302/.357/.502 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 280 plate appearances against right-handed pitching.

Flaherty, 26, has batted .218/.280/.364 with eight home runs and 20 RBI in 75 games for the Orioles this season.

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Orioles interested in bringing back Reynolds?

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Orioles interested in bringing back Reynolds?

Posted on 08 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

In what figured to be a slow news day for the Orioles as they travel to San Francisco to begin a three-game series with the Giants on Friday night, the sudden availability of an old friend has sparked debate about a potential reunion.

Cleveland Indians infielder Mark Reynolds has been designated for assignment in what’s been a difficult 2013 season, leaving many to wonder if the former Orioles slugger would be a good fit as the right-handed designated hitter option the lineup has lacked all year. Of course, the Indians are in the midst of their own pennant race and don’t view Reynolds as a viable contributor as he’s hit just .215 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs, with much of that production coming over the first five weeks of the season when he got off to a hot start with his new club. His .680 on-base plus slugging percentage is a career worst by a significant margin.

According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the Orioles are interested in Reynolds if Cleveland can secure trade waivers on him, which would be necessary since the non-waiver trade deadline has passed. After a club designates a player, it has 10 days to either trade, release, or place him on waivers in hopes of outrighting the player to the minor leagues.

Since May 7, Reynolds has hit .179 with five home runs and 21 RBIs and has posted an abysmal .532 OPS while striking out 96 times in 267 plate appearances. Always known to be a streaky hitter as many Orioles fans can frustratingly recall, the Indians finally gave up after a three-month slump in which he’s been relegated to the bench for poor play.

The Orioles’ struggles at the DH spot are well documented this season as the position has produced a .210 average with 16 home runs, 46 RBIs, and a .389 slugging percentage, numbers not terribly different from what Reynolds brought to the Indians this year. Rookie Henry Urrutia has been the most recent to receive an opportunity as the DH against right-handed pitching, but he’s shown little power potential while hitting .273 in 44 plate appearances.

Switch-hitting veteran Wilson Betemit began a minor-league rehab assignment earlier this week, but he would only make sense as a DH option against right-handed pitching with his well-documented deficiencies against left-handers.

Currently, outfielder Steve Pearce and catcher Taylor Teagarden are the only right-handed bats off the bench, but a corner infielder wouldn’t provide as much defensive versatility as Pearce. This season, Reynolds is hitting .215 with six homers and 20 RBIs while posting a .745 OPS against southpaws.

Reynolds signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Indians last winter after the Orioles expressed no interest in retaining his services — declining an $11 million club option before eventually non-tendering him — but the 30-year-old was popular in the clubhouse and may feel revitalized returning to Baltimore where he expressed a preference to stay at the end of last season.

His numbers are alarmingly trending in the wrong direction this year after what was already an underwhelming 2012 season with the Orioles, but if he’s simply a waiver claim or the Indians would simply send him Baltimore’s way for cash considerations or a no-name minor leaguer, it might be worth the gamble that Reynolds can get hot for some portion of the final two months of the season.

But if the asking price is any more, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette should aim higher if he’s serious about adding a right-handed DH option to the 25-man roster. Realistically speaking, the executive should be looking to do better regardless of the cost to acquire Reynolds, who seems like more of a fingers-crossed hope than a real solution at this point.

In his two seasons in Baltimore, Reynolds hit .221 with 60 home runs, 155 RBIs, and a .786 OPS in 290 games.

 

 

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Chen making slow progress on road back from oblique injury

Posted on 28 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

WASHINGTON — As rookie right-hander Kevin Gausman was making his second major league start on Tuesday night, the Orioles continue to wait patiently on the recovery of left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.

Chen was eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, but the Taiwanese southpaw has yet to pick up a baseball as he rehabs a strained right oblique injury in Sarasota. The 27-year-old exited his start in Minnesota on May 12 after throwing five shutout innings and was officially placed on the disabled list two days later.

Oblique injuries are problematic with a high rate of setbacks because it’s difficult for training staffs to determine whether the muscle has truly healed until the player begins throwing again. Manager Buck Showalter and Chen both expressed the need to be cautious to make sure the lefty is healthy for the duration of the season.

“There’s a little progress, but not anything big,” Showalter said. “Little by little. It’s so hard to handicap that, but he’s doing OK.”

Chen is 3-3 with a 3.04 earned run average in eight starts covering 47 1/3 innings this season and had been the club’s most consistent starter at the time of the injury.

In other injury-related news, second baseman Brian Roberts has begun hitting off a tee and is on schedule for the projected six-week recovery laid out after he underwent surgery on his right hamstring nearly three weeks ago.

“He’s on schedule,” Showalter said. “He started increasing his baseball activities, his tee work, and soft toss, and he felt fine. I know him, he wants it to happen tomorrow, but I don’t think it’s ‘if,’ it’s ‘when’ with Brian.”

Infielder Wilson Betemit has finally begun some baseball-related activity as he is now playing catch and could continue to increase his level of activity. He has been sidelined since March with a Grade 2/3 PCL tear in his right knee and originally expressed hope that he would return in eight weeks.

With the Orioles struggling to find production at the designated hitter spot for much of the season, Betemit would be an ideal option against right-handed pitching after batting .302 and posting an .859 on-base plus slugging percentage against right-handed hurlers last season.

“Wilson’s a little bit of a forgotten guy in this [lineup],” Showalter said. “He did a lot of good things for us last year and we’re looking forward to getting him back.”

Backup catcher Taylor Teagarden (left thumb) caught five innings in an extended spring game on Monday and could be ready to go on a minor-league rehab assignment within the next few days. He will catch once again on Wednesday after serving as the DH in Tuesday’s extended spring training contest.

Infield prospect Jonathan Schoop will get a second opinion on his lower back in California on Wednesday after executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette revealed last week that the 21-year-old is dealing with a stress fracture in his back. That type of injury would likely keep Schoop sidelined until after the All-Star break, according to the initial prognosis.

 

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Health concerns mounting as Reimold, Ayala leave Sunday’s game

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Health concerns mounting as Reimold, Ayala leave Sunday’s game

Posted on 07 April 2013 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 7: 15 a.m.)

The Orioles lost their series finale against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday and may have lost two more pieces for the time being.

After grounding into a double play to end the sixth inning, left fielder Nolan Reimold left the game with hamstring tightness and will be reevaluated on Monday. Meanwhile, relief pitcher Luis Ayala did not play in the series finale but was taken to the hospital after becoming ill in the sixth or seventh inning, according to manager Buck Showalter.

The pair joined a growing list of health concerns that has included infielders Brian Roberts and Wilson Betemit and pitcher Steve Johnson.

However, the Orioles received good news Sunday night as Ayala joined the team in Boston after only experiencing dizzy spells on Sunday, according to several reports.

Reimold’s status will be tricky as the Orioles are already playing with a three-man bench after activating right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman to make Saturday’s start. The club is preparing for contingency plans, which could include a trip to the 15-day disabled list for Reimold if the hamstring injury is expected to keep him out for more than a day or two.

“We’re trying to evaluate it now,” Showalter said after the 4-3 loss to the Twins at Camden Yards. “[Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette] is going on the trip with us to Boston. I talked to him a little bit during the game to let him know where we were.”

The Orioles play an afternoon game at Fenway Park against the Red Sox on Monday before a day off on Tuesday. One would assume the club would need to make a decision by then on Reimold’s status and the need to have another bench player available.

Reimold painted an optimistic picture regarding his status, but April night games with potentially chilly temperatures won’t do a tight hamstring any favors without adequate rest.

“I came in here and did some [treatment] and calmed it down,” Reimold said following the game. “It’s a little tight still, but it’s not cramping up anymore. It should be all right.”

Showalter expressed confidence that the club’s medical staff was just being proactive in sending Ayala to the hospital to be checked out. The right-hander didn’t accompany the Orioles on their flight to Boston.

The reliever’s status wasn’t as critical as Reimold considering the Orioles are currently playing with an eight-man bullpen.

“He had some things you normally don’t have and they decided after looking at him — better go check it out,” Showalter said. “I’ve got a pretty good idea of what we’re dealing with. See how things go.”

Showalter also confirmed that the Orioles will push back Miguel Gonzalez’s next start until the weekend against the Yankees despite his turn falling during the Boston series. The Baltimore manager said there isn’t a health concern and wants to simply give the slight right-handed pitcher a few extra days.

The club gave Gonzalez an extra day or two on several occasions over the final two months of the 2012 season.

“We’re not matching people up,” Showalter said. “We’re going to have 20-something games in a row. We’ve got an opportunity here. It’s not going to come very often. We’re going to hopefully be pitching him every fifth day for a long, long time. He’s got a chance if he stays healthy to pitch over 200 innings, so we want to have him in good shape for the long haul.”

Gonzalez was the club’s most effective starter the first time through the rotation as the 28-year-old allowed two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory in the final game of the season-opening series against Tampa Bay.

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Orioles officially place three more on DL to begin season

Posted on 31 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have officially placed three more players on the 15-day disabled list to begin the 2013 season after sending right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman there a few days ago.

Infielder Wilson Betemit (right knee ligament sprain) and pitchers Steve Johnson (right lat strain) and Tsuyoshi Wada (left elbow surgery) were sent to the DL on Sunday as the Orioles finalized their 25-man roster to begin the season. Betemit’s placement is retroactive to March 26 as the veteran hopes to return to action in six to eight weeks after suffering a torn PCL. Wada isn’t expected to return until late May or early June as he continues to rehab from last season’s Tommy John surgery.

Baltimore hopes Johnson can return soon and begin pitching for Triple-A Norfolk to begin the season after resting his back. He would be eligible to return from the disabled list next Sunday.

The club also selected the contract of outfielder Steve Pearce after he was informed by manager Buck Showalter on Saturday that he’d won the final spot on the 25-man roster.

Pearce’s addition fills the empty slot on the Orioles’ 40-man roster.

 

 

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Orioles’ 25-man roster set as Pearce grabs final spot

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Orioles’ 25-man roster set as Pearce grabs final spot

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have set their 25-man roster for the start of the regular season as outfielder Steve Pearce won the final bench spot on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Pearce beat out fellow outfielder Conor Jackson after both complete strong Grapefruit League performances. The right-handed batter will likely serve as the club’s designated hitter against left-handed pitching to begin the season.

As expected, manager Buck Showalter named right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta his fourth starter and left-hander Brian Matusz will pitch out of the bullpen to begin the season. Next Friday will mark the third consecutive time Arrieta has taken the hill in the home opener.

Utility players Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla and catcher Taylor Teagarden will occupy three of the club’s four bench spots to begin the season. Flaherty became all but a certainty to make the team following the knee injury suffered by corner infielder and designated hitter Wilson Betemit earlier this week.

The bench took a substantial hit after Betemit tore the PCL in his right knee as Showalter would have had either Betemit, Nolan Reimold, or Nate McLouth off the bench on a typical night, depending on the pitching matchup. However, Casilla provides a base-stealing threat while Flaherty will serve as the primary pinch hitter against right-handed pitching.

Showalter must decide whether he will keep Rule 5 selection T.J. McFarland in the bullpen beyond the first few days of the season after the left-hander was told he made the team to begin the season.

The 23-year-old impressed this spring but must remain on the 25-man roster in order to stay with the organization. The decision to send fifth starter Chris Tillman to the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 22) was made in order to buy time for the Orioles to either trade another relief pitcher or to work out a deal with the Cleveland Indians — McFarland’s original club — that would allow them to option McFarland to the minor leagues.

Right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson is expected to be placed on the DL as he deals with a back injury.

Teams have until 3 p.m. on Sunday to finalize their 25-man rosters for the start of the regular season.

Here’s a look at where the roster stands right now, including a projected lineup:

LINEUP
RF Nick Markakis
LF Nate McLouth
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
DH Nolan Reimold
3B Manny Machado
2B Brian Roberts

BENCH
INF Alexi Casilla
UTI Ryan Flaherty
C Taylor Teagarden
OF Steve Pearce

STARTING ROTATION
RHP Jason Hammel
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Jake Arrieta

BULLPEN
RHP Jim Johnson
RHP Pedro Strop
RHP Darren O’Day
LHP Brian Matusz
LHP Troy Patton
RHP Luis Ayala
RHP Tommy Hunter
LHP T.J. McFarland

DISABLED LIST
RHP Chris Tillman (will become fifth starter on April 6)
INF Wilson Betemit
RHP Steve Johnson
LHP Tsuyoshi Wada

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Revisiting five questions for Orioles spring training

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Revisiting five questions for Orioles spring training

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Luke Jones

With only a week to go until the start of the 2013 season for the Orioles, it’s time to revisit the five questions that were posed at the start of spring training.

Some questions have been answered while others still hold cloudy solutions as manager Buck Showalter and his club finish up the Grapefruit League before traveling to St. Petersburg to open the season against the Tampa Bay Rays next Tuesday.

Here’s what I was pondering nearly six weeks ago as Baltimore was coming off its first playoff appearance in 15 years:

1. Can Nolan Reimold stay healthy and be the impact bat the Orioles failed to acquire in the offseason?

A sore throwing shoulder limited Reimold to the designated hitter spot for a large portion of the spring, but he returned to the outfield last week and does not appear to be feeling any lingering effects.

In 41 spring at-bats, the 29-year-old is hitting .244 with four home runs and eight runs batted in. Reimold appears to have regained all strength lost in the aftermath of the spinal fusion surgery he underwent last summer and should be in line to begin the season on the 25-man roster and in the starting lineup.

Considering the Orioles didn’t add an impact bat in the offseason and right fielder Nick Markakis is still recovering from a small herniation in his neck, Reimold must stay healthy to give the lineup a boost from a year ago.

This question ultimately won’t be answered until the Orioles head north and begin the season, but the good news is that Reimold has been healthy enough to play in 14 Grapefruit League games, which is only two fewer than the number he played in the entire 2012 season. And he’s shown to be the same power hitter he was prior to the neck injury.

2. What will the starting rotation look like when the Orioles come north to Baltimore?

Nothing has changed dramatically in the makeup of the starting rotation from what was projected at the start of spring training, but there are plenty of question marks based on what we’ve seen in Sarasota.

The good news is Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, and Miguel Gonzalez are still projected to hold the top three spots in the rotation, but all come with questions. Hammel hasn’t shown any lingering effects from last year’s knee surgery and is in line to be the club’s Opening Day starter, but he’s also appeared in just three Grapefruit League games, allowing five earned runs in nine innings of work and not displaying the same command with the two-seam fastball that he did last year.

Chen was roughed up by the Phillies over the weekend and has allowed seven earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in three big-league outings. Meanwhile, Gonzalez has seen the least amount of action as he’s made just two spring appearances covering four innings (one earned run).

All have received regular work by pitching in minor-league camp and simulated games, but you do wonder if the top of the Baltimore rotation is adequately prepared to face big-league hitters beginning in a week. Then again, Showalter could simply be hiding his top starters to prevent American League foes from getting a good look at them in Florida.

The rotation becomes foggier after that as Chris Tillman would appear to be ready to take the No. 4 spot in the rotation, but abdominal soreness has limited him to 4 1/3 innings of Grapefruit League action. A four-inning stint at the Orioles’ Twin Lakes facility on Sunday indicates Tillman is ready to begin the season in the starting rotation and not on the disabled list.

Jake Arrieta appears to have the clear edge for the final spot in the rotation as he holds a sparkling 1.56 earned run average in 17 1/3 spring innings covering five appearances. Originally scheduled to start against the Twins on Tuesday, Arrieta was pulled to instead pitch at the Orioles’ minor-league facility, another indicator that he will be the fifth starter when you remember Minnesota visits Camden Yards for the first home series of the season late next week.

Brian Matusz appeared to fall behind Arrieta after struggling in his start on Sunday, but the Orioles must think carefully on what to do with the 26-year-old left-hander. There is clear incentive to shift him to the bullpen role in which he thrived late last season, but this also comes with the understanding that pushing him to a short-relief role means it may be difficult to move him back into the starting rotation from a conditioning and health standpoint later in the season. Moving a starter to the bullpen is one thing, but asking a relief pitcher to suddenly stretch himself out in the middle of the season is begging for an injury to occur.

Rule 5 selection T.J. McFarland and Steve Johnson remain in the hunt, but it appears both pitchers would be more likely to earn a bullpen job as a long reliever if they’re to make the club. Because the Orioles don’t want to risk losing the 23-year-old McFarland, they will likely try to stash the lefty sinkerballer in the bullpen for as long as they can, meaning it’s a good possibility that Johnson begins the year at Triple-A Norfolk.

After a rough start to the spring, Jair Jurrjens has rebounded nicely — pitching five shutout innings in his latest outing — and appears he’ll be among the first pitchers on call at Norfolk early in the season. He and Zach Britton will be nice insurance policies at the Triple-A level for now.

3. Who will step up to play second base?

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Betemit hoping to miss only 6-8 weeks with PCL injury

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Betemit hoping to miss only 6-8 weeks with PCL injury

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Luke Jones

With a week to go a relatively healthy spring training, the Orioles appeared to have suffered their most serious injury of the Grapefruit League Monday as veteran Wilson Betemit was carted off the field with a sprained PCL in his right knee.

Running between first and second base with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Betemit appeared to pull up lame before hyperextending his right knee and crumpling to the ground in pain. The 31-year-old was on the ground for several minutes before being taken off the field on a cart.

According to reports from Sarasota on Tuesday morning, Betemit hopes to miss only six to eight weeks as surgery is not being considered at this point in time. However, that remains an optimistic outlook as he’ll be reevaluated at that point in time before determining whether he’s able to return to the diamond. According to injury analyst Will Carroll, there is a strong possibility that Betemit will still require surgery if rehabbing the knee proves unsuccessful.

Entering Monday’s game hitting .194 (7-for-36) this spring, Betemit hit a home run and had plated four runs before leaving Monday’s 12-9 win over the Boston Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium. The switch-hitting Betemit feasted on right-handed pitching in his first season with the Orioles last year, hitting .302 and posting an .859 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). He entered spring training as the consensus favorite to be the club’s designated hitter against right-handers and brings versatility with his ability to play the corner infield spots as well as the outfield in a pinch.

Saying he had a “heavy heart” for the injured veteran, manager Buck Showalter informed reporters in Sarasota that Betemit would undergo an MRI on Monday evening and would be reevaluated on Tuesday.

With Betemit expected to miss an extended period of time, it not only opens the door for the versatile Ryan Flaherty to all but clinch a spot on the 25-man roster but increases the chances of a veteran bat such as Steve Pearce or Lew Ford to make the club.

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Five questions to ponder for Orioles spring training

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Five questions to ponder for Orioles spring training

Posted on 13 February 2013 by Luke Jones

The Orioles held their first workouts for pitchers and catchers to officially kick off spring training in Sarasota on Wednesday.

Trying to build on a 93-win campaign that included their first trip to the playoffs in 15 years, the Orioles have several questions marks after a quiet offseason void of significant moves.

Here are five questions to ponder as Baltimore begins preparations for the 2013 season:

1. Can Nolan Reimold stay healthy and be the impact bat the Orioles failed to acquire in the offseason?

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette failed in his quest to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat, but a healthy Reimold would go a long way in providing the extra offense the Orioles are looking for after they finished ninth in runs scored and 11th in on-base percentage in the American League last season. Of course, expecting Reimold to stay injury-free has only resulted in frustration over the years as the left fielder missed most of last season after undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

The good news is Reimold is already taking live batting practice and appears to be 100 percent for spring training as he will compete with Nate McLouth for the starting job in left field. McLouth is the superior fielder and has more speed, but few would argue Reimold’s ability at the plate as he hit .313 with five home runs in 67 at-bats last season.

The club could elect to use Reimold as the designated hitter more frequently to keep him healthy, and he would be an ideal fit in the No. 2 spot because of his plate discipline (a career .338 on-base percentage in 916 plate appearances in the majors) or in the fifth or sixth spot because of his power. At 29, Reimold appears to be running out of time as a viable option on which the Orioles can depend moving forward, but the club signed him for $1 million in the offseason and maintains control of him through the 2015 season.

Duquette didn’t acquire an established veteran bat and also parted ways with slugger Mark Reynolds, so this spring will be critical for Reimold to prove he can provide extra punch to the lineup. If he’s again unhealthy, the Orioles will be forced to lean more heavily on McLouth, who carries his own baggage despite a 2012 renaissance in Baltimore.

2. What will the starting rotation look like when the Orioles come north to Baltimore?

The starting rotation would appear to have a more definitive outline than it did as this time last year as Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Chris Tillman all put forth career seasons in 2012, but none of those four come without questions this spring. Concerns over Hammel’s knee were eased with his ability to pitch effectively in the postseason, but the Orioles hope he can replicate his first half last season when he looked like an ace and was included in the fan vote for the final spot on the AL All-Star team.

Chen and Gonzalez will need to prove their rookie campaigns weren’t flukes as the rest of the league will be more familiar with each and the latter’s 170-pound frame will always cause some to question his durability over a full season. Adjustments made to Tillman’s mechanics by director of pitching development Rick Peterson paid major dividends last year, but the 24-year-old will need to replicate that success over an entire season in the big leagues.

Even if those four pick up right where they left off, manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair must sift through a number of other candidates to replace the fifth spot in the rotation left behind by veteran left Joe Saunders, who signed with Seattle last week. Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Steve Johnson, Zach Britton, and Tommy Hunter will all be in the mix, but each comes with their limitations and concerns.

The Orioles continue to point to strength in numbers as it pertains to the starting rotation as 12 pitchers made starts for Baltimore last season. And to offer some perspective on how quickly things can change due to injury or ineffectiveness, three-fifths of the rotation that began the 2012 season landed in the minor leagues by the All-Star break.

The top four will have the inside track for rotation spots entering the spring, but Showalter won’t hesitate to make changes quickly if anyone isn’t up to the task.

3. Who will step up to play second base?

Yes, Brian Roberts is still with the Orioles as he enters the final season of a four-year contract that’s seen him play 115 games combined in the last three years. The 35-year-old infielder appears to be recovered from hip surgery and an offseason surgery to correct a sports hernia, but viewing Roberts as a viable option feels more like you’re being polite than at all realistic.

The Orioles acquired the slick-fielding Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Minnesota Twins after the switch-hitting second baseman played in a career-high 106 games last season. The 28-year-old is a career .250 hitter and provides good speed (21 stolen bases in 2012), but it remains to be seen whether he can handle full-time duties at the plate or he’ll be exposed over a bigger sample of at-bats.

The most intriguing option from an offensive perspective would be Ryan Flaherty, who split duties at second base with the departed Robert Andino at the end of last season. Thought limited defensively, Flaherty hit six home runs in 153 at-bats as a Rule 5 player who stuck on the 25-man roster all season.

Because of Showalter’s preference for strong defense up the middle, Casilla would appear to be the favorite to handle the bulk of the duties at second base due to Roberts’ frailty and Flaherty’s limitations in the field. However, this will remain a very fluid position to watch as the spring progresses.

4. How will Showalter handle the designated hitter spot in the order?

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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