I've made the assumption that three spots in the Orioles' batting order are set. Brian Roberts leads off, Nick Markakis hits third and Cesar Izturis hits ninth. It's the rest of the lineup that's been a mystery.
I still believe you'll it see play out that way on most nights, but manager Dave Trembley suggested yesterday that only two spots are locked up.
"I would say one and nine," Trembley said yesterday during his call-in segment on Wall to Wall Baseball. "I wouldn't say three is a slam dunk. I think there could be some times when Nick hits second. Obviously, the best slot for him is probably to hit third, but there might be some times when he doesn't hit there.
"I think Roberts is one of the rare guys leading off the game, I think Izturis will be that bookend hitting ninth, and I think whoever is our No. 8 hitter will be a darn good hitter. It's kind of fun. Let's take a look at it, let's watch them in spring training, let's see where we're at."
Miguel Tejada could hit second or third, depending where Markakis settles in the lineup. Or he could bat anywhere from fourth to sixth. It's just impossible to know at this date, and it could change from game to game or week to week.
"He knows how to handle the bat and he's a versatile guy and he can make some adjustments," Trembley said. "He's very good using the other side of the diamond. He had 199 hits last season and drove in a lot of runs. He's a very good two-strike hitter. He brings some options and some flexibility, and I think our lineup can be structured so that it's balanced, so that late in the ballgame maybe the other guy on the other side will have to use two pitchers to get two outs instead of one guy to face them. I can match it up so there aren't two righties hitting back to back. I can put a switch-hitter in between a couple guys. I can have a lefty in there. It makes for some interesting scenarios, and I think that's one of the things I'll experiment with in spring training."
Trembley also indicated that he's willing to put one of his young hitters in the cleanup spot. I figured he would prefer to bat Matt Wieters or Nolan Reimold lower in the order, but that's not necessarily the case.
"I'm going to watch, I'm going to see how it plays out in spring training," he said. "I have a pretty good idea of what direction I want it to go, but I don't think there's going to be a tryout. I'm not reluctant at all to hit Reimold or Wieters or (Adam) Jones or any of those young kids up in the lineup. They're major league hitters, and I think the more times you get those guys up early in the game, the more chances you've got to score."