Orioles trying to solve the DH riddle

I didn't take an official vote, but I sense that most fans here would pass on Manny Ramirez.

Fair enough.

It doesn't cost anything to watch him take batting practice in Miami. The Orioles have a scout (Juan Alvarez) who's based down there. Maybe he drove to the facility and checked out Ramirez. We're talking a few gallons of gas.

If nothing else, yesterday's report quieted the fury over Alfonso Soriano.

The curiosity for me is what approach the Orioles are taking to filling the designated hitter role.

Guys like Soriano and Ramirez are one-dimensional - they can play the outfield, but it's not recommended - and would clog the spot in the same manner as Vladimir Guerrero. That's not necessarily how manager Buck Showalter prefers to operate, but I also assume that he'll take any bat that will produce runs.

The other strategy would involve rotating players like Nolan Reimold, Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds. Showalter likes that kind of flexibility, but the Orioles still need to find another hitter, which takes me back to Atlanta's Martin Prado.

Prado could play second base if Brian Roberts is on the disabled list. He could shift to third base, allowing Davis to DH. He could shift to left field, allowing Reimold to do the same. That's flexibility. And Robert Andino could be a part-time starter at second and move around the infield, just as Showalter envisions.

Let's not forget about Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who reportedly will set up residency in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 15 and officially become a free agent. Showalter, executive director of international recruiting Fred Ferreira, director of international operations David Stockstill, Dominican-based scout Carlos Bernhardt and new bullpen coach Bill Castro attended a private workout last month, which I wrote about here exactly four weeks ago.

The Orioles are interested in Cespedes, 26, but there are a few catches. He might not be ready for the majors, though some scouts believe he could step in a lineup tomorrow. I've heard conflicting opinions. Also, at least six teams reportedly are "in on" Cespedes, including the Tigers, who figure to be aggressive in their pursuit.

The Yankees, Red Sox and Marlins also will be among the main bidders for Cespedes. They like to spend money. Lots and lots of it.

You see where I'm going with this.

MLB.com reported that Cespedes no longer is seeking an eight-year deal. He's more likely to settle for something in the four-year, $32 million range, according to a source.

Cespedes is a center fielder, but he could play left and allow Reimold to DH.

I'll label him as a long shot to join the Orioles until they prove me wrong. Executive vice president Dan Duquette's commitment to international signings leaves me encouraged, more so than at any other time since I've been on the beat, but I'm waiting for an impact signing.

I'm also waiting for the club to figure out how Showalter is going to write a DH's name in the lineup every night.

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