Recap of O's spring on Opening Day eve

April 05, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec |

The Orioles concluded their exhibition schedule Saturday, finishing the Grapefruit League with a 12-17-1 mark.

It was a relatively uneventful spring with the main storylines being Miguel Tejada's transitioning from shortstop to third base; Brian Roberts playing through a herniated disk in his back; veterans Garrett Atkins, Kevin Millwood and Michael Gonzalez acclimating themselves to their new teams; and Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergesen recovering from injuries.

Here is a look at three things that went right and three things that went wrong:

Three things that went right
Year 1 at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota: After years of training in outdated Fort Lauderdale Stadium, the Orioles took full advantage of their new spring training home.

They sent veteran pitchers to the back fields to log innings in minor league games, frequently called on minor leaguers to fill out rosters and salvaged rainy days by getting work done in the indoor cages.

Team officials are even more excited about the future of the complex, which will undergo extensive renovations soon.

Trio of young starters: With a 2.59 ERA, Brian Matusz, the 23-year-old left-hander, generated probably more buzz in Florida than any other young pitcher except for Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg.

Matusz will start the season as the team's No. 3 starter.

Bergesen, the No. 4 starter, began the spring behind the other pitchers while he recovered from shin and shoulder injuries but made up ground quickly.

David Hernandez, who was barely given a chance to make the rotation at the outset, clearly outpitched his top competitor, the more-heralded Chris Tillman, to become the fifth starter. He was one of the team's most improved players from last year.

Felix Pie: In some respects, the Orioles still don't know what they have in the outfielder, but they are certainly excited about the possibilities.

Expected to start the season as the fourth outfielder, Pie was the Orioles' best hitter this spring. He batted .342 with seven extra-base hits to earn the Opening Day start in left field over Reimold.

Three things that went wrong
Bullpen in flux: When the spring began, the bullpen was supposed to be a strength.

However, Koji Uehara, who was expected to be the seventh-inning guy, will start the season on the disabled list (hamstring), and another late-game option, Kam Mickolio, wasn't consistent or healthy enough to make the club.

Top veteran starters struggle: In 29 combined Grapefruit League innings, Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie, the Orioles' Nos. 1 and 2 starters, respectively, allowed 29 earned runs, 49 hits, seven homers and 18 walks.

Bats stayed quiet: Catcher Matt Wieters hit .220 with three extra-base hits, Nick Markakis batted .254, and Luke Scott and Cesar Izturis hit .259 and .170, respectively. Trying to rediscover his swing, new first baseman Atkins batted .255 with just one homer.

Only Adam Jones hit more than three homers.

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