Position players officially report today to Baltimore Orioles Spring Training, which means that we are that much closer to some game action and Opening Day. Today we have reached our next to last segment of our Spring Training preview as we focus on the bench and DH roles for the Birds.
We are not going to dive into every player that is up for the DH role and or a spot on the bench for the Birds, because quite frankly, there are too many to count, but we will focus on who we feel are the primary candidates to crack the 25-man roster.
The DH role was a hole for the Orioles in 2013 until Danny Valencia emerged in August and Baltimore is hoping for an improvement there this season.
Baltimore signed Delmon Young to a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite, but all along, barring a big free agent signing, Young has been expected to be this team's right handed DH. Young is a career .282 hitter with a .739 OPS (click here for full stat breakdown), but what makes him really attractive to the Orioles, other than the fact that he is cheap, is his .303 career average against left handed pitchers.
Henry Urrutia, who could also find himself as the team's fourth outfielder, is the prime candidate to be the team's left handed DH. 2014 will be his first full season in the organization and he quickly rose last year and showed he can hit at the big league level, although he showed minimal power. He has put on some muscle this offseason and played extremely well in the Arizona Fall League and showed some power.
Some of the interesting candidates for DH include Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce, who both served as the right handed DH at times last season for the Birds. Pearce, in our opinion, will have to put up Jake Fox type Spring Training numbers again in order to make the team, but Reimold has been an organization favorite for quite some time now. Reimold will first and foremost need to stay healthy, which we all know is a stretch, but if he does remain healthy, he could find himself as the fourth outfielder and getting some time at DH.
The bench is much more interesting, and it will be broken down even more in our final part of our Spring Training when we give you our prediction for the 25-man roster, but the bench is extremely complicated and competitive. The first thing that automatically needs to be stated is that either Steve Clevenger or Johnny Monell will have one of those spots as the backup catcher. Now presumably you have three more spots, which calls for a middle infielder, an outfielder and a wildcard.
Rule-5 draft pick Michael Almanzar will presumably have one of those bench spots as he must remain on the 25-man roster, or be offered back to the Boston Red Sox. Alexi Casilla, Jemile Weeks, Alex Gonzalez and Jonathan Schoop will battle for the utility infielder bench spot, and several guys such as Francisco Peguero, Quintin Berry, Xavier Paul, Julio Borbon, Pearce, Reimold, and Urrutia will compete for that extra outfield spot.
The bench, along with the bullpen are the most volatile positions in baseball and are essentially revolving doors for players and the Orioles will be no different. Check back tomorrow as we give you our prediction of the Opening Day 25-man roster as the Birds will have their first full team workout tomorrow as well.
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