Regan sets 1st O's order, but changes are on deck

April 12, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

SARASOTA, Fla. -- From his back pocket, Orioles manager Phil Regan pulled out a piece of white note pad, folded six or 600 times.

On this crumpled piece of paper, Regan had written the lineup for tomorrow's exhibition game against the Texas Rangers, the Orioles' first of the spring. He said this order was not set in stone, but, really, it may not even have been in ink, because this particular order is subject to change.

Left fielder Brady Anderson is hitting first, but Regan said he may try him second, or sixth or seventh later in the spring. Rookie Curtis Goodwin is batting second, but Regan likely will try him in the leadoff spot. Second baseman Bret Barberie, batting seventh, could be moved to No. 2.

Regan plans to try a lot of lineup combinations this spring, trying to find the perfect man for each spot.

* Leadoff: Regan is looking for a guy with a knack for getting on base, someone who can steal a base, somebody adept at going from first to third on a single. "Someone who's willing to take a pitch in certain situations," Regan said.

Anderson, the Orioles' full-time leadoff man last year, wants his old job back. But Regan wants to explore Goodwin's potential here, and has spoken of moving Anderson down in the lineup to take advantage of his power and RBI potential.

* No. 2: Foremost, Regan would like a left-handed hitter here, he said, because if the leadoff man gets on and he is held at first base, the batter has a huge hole to pull the ball through on the right-hand side.

"You'd like a guy who's a good bunter," Regan said. "A guy with speed, someone who will stay out of double plays, someone who can hit-and-run and make contact.

"Brady would be a good No. 2 hitter, although I don't think he thinks he would be."

Goodwin would be a fit, as well, because he's already a decent bunter and devotes much of his energy to improving that skill. Batting him second also could take pressure off him because Regan says that if the leadoff hitter reaches base, he may call for a bunt, even in the first inning.

Second baseman Bret Barberie, a spray hitter, is another good fit at No. 2, except he's not much of a threat to steal, with 15 stolen bases in 1,168 major-league at-bats.

But by batting the switch-hitting Barberie second, Regan could discourage opposing managers from bringing in a left-hander to face the top of the order; he hit .319 against left-handers last year.

Jeffrey Hammonds has batted second in the past, but because he's a right-handed hitter, he does not fit Regan's prototype.

* No. 3: Rafael Palmeiro. He's a fixture here.

* No. 4: Ditto Cal Ripken.

* No. 5: Designated hitter Harold Baines hits here, protecting Ripken. Against some left-handers, Sherman Obando may start but move down in the lineup, with Chris Hoiles possibly hitting fifth.

* Nos. 6 and 7: With the left-hand hitting Baines at No. 5, Regan likes the idea of batting a right-handed batter sixth -- likely Hoiles -- and a left-handed hitter seventh, perhaps Anderson. This way, the Orioles' lineup will go left-right-left-right-left-right from the third spot to No. 8.

"It would be hard for other teams to make pitching changes against a lineup like that," Regan said. "Usually, they like to bring in a left-hander or right-hander to face a couple of hitters in a row, but this would make it tougher to do that."

For instance: Game on the line in the eighth inning, Yankees vs. the Orioles. Ripken on second base and nobody out. If Yankees manager Buck Showalter wanted his left-handers to face only left-handers and his right-handers to face only right-handers, he would need at least three pitchers to get through the inning.

* No. 8: Regan said Leo Gomez is perfect here, in the second clean-up spot in the order.

* No. 9: Damon Buford for now, Hammonds when he gets healthy. But Hammonds may get a look at the leadoff spot when he's fully recovered and stealing bases.

Lots to consider, and Opening Day is two weeks away.

EXHIBITION LINEUP

LF Brady Anderson

Might move around in the lineup, possibly battling second, sixth or seventh.

CF Curtis Goodwin

Regan will try him at leadoff, as well, but likes his bunting ability in this spot.

1B Rafael Palmeiro

Locked into the No. 3 spot. Hard to argue with his combination of power and average.

SS Cal Ripken

The most critical member of this lineup. Orioles need his run production.

DH Harold Baines

Will share this spot with Sherman Obando, or perhaps bat lower in the order against left-handers.

C Chris Hoiles

Could move up to fifth against left-handers, or perhaps move down to seventh if Anderson hits sixth.

2B Bret Barberie

Look for him to be tried in the second spot in the order. Except for lack of speed, could be prototype No. 2.

3B Leo Gomez

Regan really likes his power here, providing run production at the bottom of the order.

RF Damon Buford

Has been given a chance to win a job with the Orioles -- or show other teams' scouts what he can do.

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