What do the Orioles have in recently acquired outfielder Felix Pie?
The question probably won't be answered until well into the regular season when Pie, one of the game's most-hyped prospects, gets an extended big league opportunity that he was not afforded in Chicago. The multi-tooled outfielder has spent parts of seven seasons in the minors and has only 260 big league at-bats. The Orioles will be patient with Pie, who figures to get the majority of starts in left field, and give hitting coach Terry Crowley every opportunity to try to work on the 24-year-old's approach and long swing. At the very least, the speedy Pie should be a good defensive outfielder.
How will Dave Trembley set up his bullpen?
The Orioles' bullpen is expected to be one of the team's strengths heading into the season, and that's largely because of the trio at the back end of it. Trembley can use Sherrill, Johnson and Ray interchangeably from the seventh to ninth innings. He'll decide on his closer during spring training, though all signs point to Sherrill getting the nod after he saved 31 games last year. Ray, the team's former closer who is 16 months removed from ligament-reconstruction surgery, will be eased in and asked to get key outs late in the game. Trembley (right) has a host of valuable multi-inning relief options, including Sarfate, Bass, Baez and Hendrickson. But he'll need Walker to show that he can consistently get left-handed hitters out again.
Will the Orioles carry 13 or 12 pitchers?
It seems like such a minor issue, but it carries major ramifications for several Orioles veterans. If Wigginton or Freel prove this spring that they are capable of playing shortstop and backing up Cesar Izturis, that will likely mean that veteran Chris Gomez won't make the club and Trembley will go with 12 position players and a three-man bench of Freel, Wigginton and a backup catcher. It will also allow the Orioles to carry 13 pitchers. If Trembley wants the versatile Gomez on the roster and a four-man bench, it will come at the expense of a pitcher. It stands to reason with Hill, Penn and Pauley out of options, the Orioles could use the extra spot for a pitcher.