Determining roles for Angle and Hunter

Matt Angle didn’t have a hit last night in the Orioles’ 8-3 victory over the Angels, but he laid down a nice sacrifice bunt in the third inning and reached on an error and scored in the fifth. He also made a nice leaping catch near the fence to rob Howie Kendrick in the top of the first.

Angle is part of the new go-go Orioles, who have been successful on 19 of their last 21 stolen base attempts since Aug. 26. Eight different players have recorded steals during that stretch: Angle, Robert Andino, Chris Davis, Kyle Hudson, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Mark Reynolds.

“I actually think Matt is a better baserunner than he is a speed guy,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He has above-average speed, but he’s not just a burner. He runs the bases real well. The speed he has really plays well because he knows how to run the bases. And he also gives us an above-average defender in left field and probably as accurate an arm as you’ll see - a top of the hop one-hop guy who will throw out people he’s supposed to throw out.”

Angle is making a push to serve as a backup outfielder in 2012. I don’t think he hits for enough power to be considered for the left field job, and his true value lies in his ability to move around the outfield - he went from left to center after Jones was scratched - serve as a late-inning defensive replacement and steal a base.

“The things he brings, as long as he stays true to who he is and doesn’t try to get big at the plate and he makes them defend him around the diamond ... He’s had some good swings and he also keeps us from having to use J.J. (Hardy) in the leadoff spot. So we’ll see where it takes us and see if he takes advantage of the opportunity,” Showalter said.

That last line could apply to Tommy Hunter, who shut out the Angels over seven innings after giving up 17 runs (13 earned) and 23 hits in his three previous starts covering 19 innings.

I asked Showalter yesterday afternoon whether he viewed Hunter strictly as a starter, or whether the right-hander could end up in a relief role.

“It’s a given that Tommy can pitch out of the bullpen,” Showalter replied. “Whether or not he can pitch as a starter, I think there are a lot of positive vibes there. It’s a lot easier to put together a bullpen than what amounts to 10 starters. You need to be that deep in the American League East.

“We will certainly take that as far as it can go and see where he best fits for us. Right now, we look at him as a starter.”

Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall To Wall Baseball” with Tom Davis and Dave Johnson from 11 a.m.-noon on MASN.

True confession: I won’t see much of tonight’s game. I’m supposed to attend my high school reunion, and I’ll probably leave the ballpark after a few innings unless I’m overcome with guilt.

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