When Andy Williams sang “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I don’t think he knew that that time would extend to late February.
With the holidays at the beginning of the New Year, the Ravens winning the Super Bowl, and now Spring Training games beginning on Feb. 23, this really is the most wonderful time of the year (Technically, it continues through March Madness and then Opening Day, but we’ll talk about that when we get there).
Something else wonderful: The Baltimore Orioles bring back their same outfield from last year minus Endy Chavez, but let’s be honest, are you going to miss his .203 batting average?
I didn’t think so.
Coming off his best season to date, Adam Jones will continue to roam center field for the O’s. Last season, Jones batted .287 and hit 32 HR while driving in 82 runs. He also swiped 16 bases and smacked 39 doubles.
Playing next to Jones in right field is Nick Markakis. Injuries stole a bit of playing time from Markakis in 2012, but he still managed to hit .298 in the 104 games he did play. Markakis also did well hitting leadoff for Baltimore, batting .335 in his 221 leadoff at-bats. If healthy, Markakis brings a good bat and better glove to the table.
Left field will most likely be some sort of mixture of Nate McLouth, Nolan Reimold and Ryan Flaherty.
Instrumental to their success in making the playoffs, McLouth was a great pickup for the O’s in 2012. Reimold was playing very well before an April neck injury sidelined him for just about the entire season. Flaherty will most likely be a defensive replacement out in left, but will still see some time out there.
Chris Davis could also see some time in the outfield, but he’ll probably see most of his 2013 action at first base (now that the Mark Reynolds breeze is cooling down Cleveland).
Here are the O’s spring training games for this week, all at 1:05 p.m.:
Saturday, Feb. 23 against the Minnesota Twins
Sunday, Feb. 24 against the Toronto Blue Jays
Monday, Feb. 25 against the New York Yankees
Tuesday, Feb. 26 against the Pittsburgh Pirates
Wednesday, Feb. 27 against the New York Yankees
by Andy Mindzak