Picking a dark horse in Sarasota

I could attempt to cheat and wait until I get to spring training, watch a few workouts and talk to the manager before choosing my dark horse for 2011. Or I could do the honorable thing and make my decision today, without benefit of bullpen sessions and batting practice, without the opinions of the people who will construct the 25-man roster, without first having my palm read.

As if it matters.

I selected pitcher Brad Hennessey before arriving in Fort Lauderdale, blinked and missed his entire Orioles career. I chose Kam Mickolio last spring after manager Dave Trembley sat in his office and heaped enough praise on the reliever to cover the entire Mickolio family.

I can be wrong using a variety of strategies.

I’m posting the camp roster again, and I’m tagging pitcher Justin Duchscherer and designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero at the bottom. Duchscherer hadn’t passed his physical when I ran the list last week. Guerrero still hasn’t taken his physical, but I’m assuming that it goes off without a hitch.

1 Roberts, Brian INF
2 Hardy, J.J. INF
3 Izturis, Cesar INF
6 Green, Nick INF
9 Fox, Jake CA
10 Jones, Adam OF
11 Andino, Robert INF
12 Reynolds, Mark INF
14 Reimold, Nolan OF
15 Tatum, Craig CA
17 Matusz, Brian LHP
18 Pie, Felix OF
19 Uehara, Koji RHP
21 Markakis, Nick OF
24 Tillman, Chris RHP
25 Lee, Derrek INF
28 Harris, Brendan INF
29 Snyder, Brandon INF
30 Scott, Luke OF
32 Wieters, Matt CA
34 Arrieta, Jake RHP
35 Bergesen, Brad RHP
37 Bell, Josh INF
38 Angle, Matt OF
40 Patton, Troy LHP
43 Johnson, Jim RHP
45 Drese, Ryan RHP
46 Guthrie, Jeremy RHP
47 Viola, Pedro LHP
49 Berken, Jason RHP
50 Accardo, Jeremy RHP
51 Gonzalez, Michael LHP
53 Britton, Zach LHP
54 VandenHurk, Rick RHP
55 Simon, Alfredo RHP
57 Rapada, Clay LHP
58 Mahoney, Joe INF
59 Rupe, Josh RHP
60 Erbe, Brandon RHP
61 Gabino, Armando RHP
62 Spoone, Chorye RHP
63 Gregg, Kevin RHP
64 Lebron, Luis RHP
65 Rivero, Raul RHP
66 Pelzer, Wynn RHP
68 Rosario, Adrian RHP
69 Florimon, Pedro INF
70 Atkins, Mitch RHP
71 Hernandez, Michel CA
72 Adams, Ryan INF
74 Henson, Tyler OF
79 Donachie, Adam CA
Hendrickson, Mark LHP
Winn, Randy OF
Riske, David RHP
Duchscherer, Justin RHP
Guerrero, Vladimir DH

Many of you already made your predictions. I’ve seen Andino’s name come up. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec suggests that we keep an eye on non-roster pitcher Drese, a 14-game winner with the Rangers in 2004 under manager Buck Showalter.

A few injuries and a shocking demotion or two might have to occur for Drese to make the rotation, but I like how Zrebiec stepped up to the challenge. And he didn’t wait until after his flight landed and his bags were unpacked.

Not only do I still need to pack my bags, I’ve still got to do laundry. I’m making my selection right now, and I’m going with Riske.

Yes, it’s a Riske pick. I get it.

Riske was once good enough to receive a three-year contract from the Brewers, who released him in August. He’s posted a 3.67 ERA in 462 major league games. And I can’t come up with anyone else.

At first glance, the bullpen appears to be set with Gregg, Uehara, Johnson, Gonzalez, Accardo, Berken and Hendrickson (or another lefty such as Rapada or Viola). But there could be an injury, or Riske could beat out Accardo.

The Orioles signed Riske late, most likely making him their final roster addition before pitchers and catchers report on Sunday. They also were interested in reliever Elmer Dressens, according to Fernando Ballesteros at Puro Beísbol, before reaching agreement with Riske.

My guess is they’ll be very happy with their choice.

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