Jeff Zrebiec projects the roster

Orioles beat reporter looks at the top candidates to make the 25-man squad and 10 others to watch

February 11, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles will hold their first full-squad spring training workout Feb. 21 in Sarasota, Fla. Here's a look at their projected 25-man roster, plus 10 others to watch.

INFIELDERS

J.J. Hardy: Acquired from the Minnesota Twins, he'll become the Orioles' sixth different Opening Day shortstop since 2002.

Cesar Izturis: Unseated as starting shortstop, Izturis was re-signed to fill utility role as the club highly values his leadership and smarts.

Derrek Lee: After a disappointing season and thumb surgery, the veteran first baseman is intent on proving reports of his demise are premature.

Mark Reynolds: The Orioles will deal with the strikeouts as long as their new third baseman replicates the 35 homers and 95 RBIs he has averaged since 2008.

Brian Roberts: Even with all the offensive additions, the health of the second baseman might still be the biggest key for the lineup.

OUTFIELDERS

Adam Jones: The center fielder appeared to regress offensively and defensively at times in 2010, but he still hit .284 with 19 homers.

Nick Markakis: The right fielder will arrive at spring training with plenty to prove after a season in which he set career lows in homers (12) and RBIs (60).

Felix Pie: The multi-tooled 26-year-old will have to hold off Nolan Reimold for the fourth outfield role and prove he can stay healthy.

Luke Scott: The Orioles need their best hitter from 2010 to repeat the best season of his career and settle into left field.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Vladimir Guerrero: The recent free-agent addition brings a presence to the lineup and gives the Orioles their first bona fide cleanup hitter in years.

CATCHERS

Jake Fox: His power off the bench and ability to play both corner infield spots and outfield helps his chances of making the club.

Craig Tatum: The backup hit .281 last year, but he'll primarily be judged by his ability to call a game and handle the pitching staff.

Matt Wieters: With less fanfare, he needs to start justifying the hype and proving that he's the type of player everyone expected him to be.

STARTERS

Jake Arrieta: The young right-hander showed great promise during his rookie season, and a rotation spot is believed to be his to lose.

Brad Bergesen: The sinkerballer's offseason preparation wasn't affected by injuries, so he'll be in good position to repeat his strong second half of 2010.

Justin Duchscherer: If the two-time All-Star can stay healthy, the Orioles could have one of the steals of the free-agent class.

Jeremy Guthrie: The righty bounced back from poor 2009 to post a 3.83 ERA and log 2091/3 innings last year, re-emerging as the Orioles' ace.

Brian Matusz: The lefty shrugged off early-season struggles to go 7-1 in his final 11 starts in 2010 and put himself in position for a strong second full season.

RELIEVERS

Jeremy Accardo: The Orioles are hoping that a change of scenery helps him locate the form he showed in saving 30 games in 2007.

Jason Berken: The righty, who opted to rehabilitate his torn right labrum, has lost 30 pounds to help him better deal with the rigors of being in the bullpen.

Michael Gonzalez: Originally signed to be the team's closer, Gonzalez will likely serve as the team's top situational lefty after an uneven 2010.

Mark Hendrickson: The big lefty's versatility and experience give the nonroster invitee a leg up in the competition for the final bullpen spot.

Kevin Gregg: The righty has averaged 30 saves over the past four seasons and enters camp as the front-runner for the closer's role.

Jim Johnson: The Orioles haven't ruled out returning him to the rotation, but for now, he'll likely be slotted as a seventh- or eighth-inning pitcher.

Koji Uehara: If he performs this spring the way he did in August and September, he won't have a problem holding off Gregg for the closer's role.

10 OTHERS TO WATCH

Robert Andino, IF: He appeared to be on his way out of the organization before a strong finish to 2010 put him in position to challenge for the final bench spot.

Josh Bell, 3B: The addition of Reynolds likely punched his switch-hitter's ticket to Triple-A, but a strong spring would do lot for his status in the organization.

Zach Britton, SP: The Orioles' top pitching prospect is a long shot to make the club, but his arrival in the big leagues will likely happen sooner rather than later.

Joe Mahoney, 1B: The organization's reigning Minor League Player of the Year, he could quiet some skeptics with a solid spring.

Clay Rapada, RP: Left-handed hitters went just 1-for-19 last season against Rapada, who will be given a shot to claim the second lefty role in the bullpen.

Nolan Reimold, OF: After a disastrous 2010 season spent mostly in the minors, he's healthy, focused and ready to challenge for a job.

Adrian Rosario, RP: A Rule 5 pick, Rosario hasn't pitched above Single-A, so it would be quite a leap if he were to defy odds and make the club.

Chris Tillman, SP: He'll get an opportunity to make rotation, but he'll likely have to outpitch Bergesen or Arrieta to do it.

Rick VandenHurk, SP/RP: The big righty is out of options, so he'll get every opportunity to win a job either as a starter or a swingman.

Randy Winn, OF: The well-respected veteran can play all three outfield positions, though he's a long shot to make the club unless Pie is traded.

Note: Reliever Alfredo Simon, the chief suspect in a fatal shooting, is being detained at a Dominican Republic prison and is almost certain to miss spring training. The Orioles are expected to keep him on their 40-man roster until Feb. 26, at which point he can be placed on baseball's restricted list for players unable to perform for reasons other than injury.

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