Taking inventory

I don't expect the Orioles to begin the season with Michael Aubrey at first base, but I also didn't expect the Jets to play in the AFC championship game or the snow to finally melt in my yard.

If the Orioles decide to sift through their inventory, which isn't their first choice, Aubrey would have to rank as the favorite to emerge with the job. He appeared in 31 games last season after having his contract purchased on Aug. 18, batting .289 with seven doubles, four homers and 14 RBIs in 90 at-bats. He also flashed a pretty good glove, living up to his reputation in Triple-A.

"Mike is the type of player that grows on you," hitting coach Terry Crowley said. "If you come and watch our BP, like I do every day up-close, he's not the type of guy who's going to wow you. Brian Roberts isn't the kind of guy who wows you in BP. Neither one of them tries to. They try to get their swing down, use the whole field, spray the ball around. But when the game starts, there's a lot I do like about Mike.

"He's not opposed to hitting the ball the other way, and if you leave one in his wheel house, he showed us he has power. I wouldn't be opposed to him being one of our regular players if we started out that way. I know Andy's trying to load the cannon as much as he can and get us as many tools as he can, but Mike showed me a lot of things.

"No. 1, he's a major league hitter. He's not a minor league ballplayer. He's definitely a major league hitter. And where he falls in the major leagues has yet to be determined."

Spring training could go a long way toward determining where Aubrey plays. He'd have to beat out Brandon Snyder and Rhyne Hughes.

Again, I'm not predicting that Aubrey will jog down that orange carpet for the home opener on April 9, but his chances improve as another day passes without a corner infielder joining the roster.

I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Crede starts at third and Garrett Atkins moves to first, or if Hank Blalock starts at first and Atkins stays at third, but Aubrey made a positive impression late last season.

That's a start.

Moving to another subject: Since athletes always seem to be making news for the wrong reasons, it should be noted that former Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada boarded a helicopter to Haiti on Sunday to personally deliver food, water and medical supplies that he helped collect for victims of last week's devastating earthquake.

Tejada isn't looking for any special attention, but he most certainly deserves it.

I'm probably not the only person who heard this and immediately thought about Roberto Clemente.

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