By this time next week, I’ll be tossing clothes in a suitcase and wondering how much AirTran will charge me for the privilege of checking in for my flight to Sarasota.
Southwest doesn’t fly into that city, which is one strike against the Orioles’ spring training relocation. But I’m sure another airline can provide me with the same travel issues that hound me each year. It’s a tradition of sorts and I’d hate to see it end.
The Orioles’ camp roster isn’t set, since they continue to search for another left-handed reliever and also could add a right-hander. And as I’ve pointed out, they still could sign another starting pitcher despite Erik Bedard being off the board. Only minor league deals at this point.
The position battles in Sarasota figure to be limited. Barring a late trade, you can pencil Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis in the outfield, with Felix Pie fighting for innings in left. Miguel Tejada, Cesar Izturis, Brian Roberts and Garrett Atkins comprise the starting infield, with Ty Wigginton backing up at first and third (and second and short in an emergency). Matt Wieters will get the majority of starts behind the plate, though manager Dave Trembley said he doesn’t have a total in mind. Luke Scott figures to be the primary designated hitter and fifth outfielder.
That’s 11 spots locked up, with only two remaining if Trembley sticks with a 12-man pitching staff, which seems to be the plan.
Chad Moeller, Craig Tatum and Michel Hernandez will try to break camp as the backup catcher. The smart money’s on Moeller. And you’d have to be pretty bored to get worked up over it.
We’re down to utility infielder. Robert Andino is the incumbent, and Justin Turner, Scott Moore and Blake Davis - a late invite to camp - will provide competition. It’s another battle that probably won’t raise goosebumps unless the temperature dips.
Some fans have suggested that Michael Aubrey could fill that role, but do you really want to see him at shortstop or any other infield position besides first?
Before anyone else suggests that Miguel Tejada could slide over to short, eliminating the need for a backup at that position, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail pretty much shot down that idea at Tejada’s press conference. It sounds like the Orioles want to keep him at third.
It’s possible that the Orioles deal Wigginton before Opening Day, which would free up another spot. He brings some appeal as a right-handed bat off the bench. And remember that he crushed the ball last spring, which raised expectations for him as the Orioles headed north.
First base is going to get pretty crowded at Triple-A Norfolk if the “inventory” stays down there. Rhyne Hughes has been told that he’ll probably take fly balls in left field in spring training.