The Baltimore Orioles have started their spring training on the right foot, winning their first three games of the season by a combined score of 15-8. I know it’s early, but, hey, it’s something!
In case you haven’t been following the Birds’ House the last few weeks, I have been outlining the O’s roster. Two weeks ago, I started with their pitching; last week, I covered their outfield. This week, I’ll preview the Orioles infield.
The starter for first base looks to be Chris Davis. “Crush’s” 2012 season was the best of his young career, as he set career-highs in hits (139), runs (75), home runs (33), and runs batted in (85). Crush led the O’s in home runs and runs batted in last year and looks to keep that pace in 2013.
Second base should be interesting, as it has been the past few seasons. Normally, Brian Roberts would be starting there, but his last few years have seen him battle several injuries. When healthy, B-Rob is one of the best second basemen in the game. The sad fact is that he has played a total of just 115 games over the past three seasons.
With Baltimore shipping Robert Andino to Seattle this winter, the O’s brought in Alexi Casilla to backup second in case Roberts gets hurt. Casilla brings some speed to the lineup, having swiped 21 bases in only 106 games last year as a Minnesota Twin.
Shortstop and third seemed to be locked down for Baltimore this year. The power-hitting J.J. Hardy will play short for the O’s, entering his third year in Baltimore. Hardy hit .238 last year, his lowest total since 2009 when he hit .229 for the Milwaukee Brewers, but he did manage to hit 22 home runs and drive in 68 runs.
At third base is 20-year-old Manny Machado. The third-overall pick of the 2010 draft made his Major League debut last year and played well in his 51 games. Machado hit .262 with seven home runs and 26 runs batted in and showed great promise during his playing time.
Baltimore’s infield looks as good if not better than last year’s group. He might not hit with the power of Mark Reynolds, but Machado is a better fielder and will hopefully surpass Reynolds’ career average of .235. The only wildcard is Roberts’s health. Whatever happens, this infield will help Baltimore try to repeat as a playoff team in 2013.
Here are the Orioles’ Spring Training games for this week, all at 1:05 p.m.:
Wed., Feb. 27: Orioles’ split squad vs. Yankees in New York; Split squad vs. Red Sox in Baltimore (7:05 p.m.)
Thurs., Feb. 28: Orioles vs. Twins in Minnesota
Fri., March 1: Orioles’ split squad vs. Pirates in Baltimore
Sat., March 2: Orioles vs. Devil Rays in Tampa
Sun., March 3: Orioles vs. Phillies in Baltimore
Tue., March 5: Orioles vs. Blue Jays in Toronto
Wed., March 6: Orioles vs. Spain in Baltimore
by Andy Mindzak