In 32 more days, I’ll be boarding a flight to Sarasota for my 16th spring training on the Orioles beat. The players, managers and top executives have changed along the way. So have the home complexes and my employers. But I’m pretty sure that I get stuck with the same rental car every year.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette hasn’t crossed every item off his to-do list. He still needs to add at least one more hitter, and we’re not sure whether he’s done searching for starting pitchers.
Duquette may not have a suitable leadoff hitter on his roster, since the two leading candidates - Endy Chavez and Robert Andino - could be projected in reserve roles. He also must decide how he’s going to fill the designated hitter spot.
Will he sign a veteran such as Johnny Damon, who won’t need to bring his glove into the dugout on most nights? Does he acquire a left fielder and move Nolan Reimold into that slot? Does he sign a corner infielder and allow Reimold, Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds to rotate?
Speaking of Damon, the Orioles definitely have interest in him, but so do the Yankees, according to various reports. If the money is remotely close, I think you know where he’ll sign.
Carlos Pena revealed during an interview on MLB Network Radio that the Yankees have contacted him. Or maybe he meant his agent, Scott Boras.
We can assume that it’s true, though Pena thought the Orioles made him an offer last winter, which turned out to be false.
Anyway, the 40-man roster figures to undergo more changes. The Orioles are at their limit, so they’ll need to make room for another newcomer. And for the first time in recent memory, I can say that it’s not a simple maneuver.
The obvious names have been chopped off. There isn’t as much dead weight, for lack of a better term.
Here’s another look at the current roster:
VandenHurk is out of options and already has been outrighted. If it happens again, he can decline the assignment and become a free agent. He’s going to be hard-pressed to make this club in spring training.
By the way, 10 players who were on the 25-man roster for the opening series at Tropicana Field are no longer in the organization: Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Luke Scott, Jake Fox, Cesar Izturis, Felix Pie, Michael Gonzalez, Koji Uehara, Josh Rupe and Jeremy Accardo. You also can eliminate Justin Duchscherer, who was on the disabled list.
Shameless plug alert: I’m back in studio with Amber Theoharis for “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” that airs from 5-7 p.m. on MASN. We didn’t win a Golden Globe last night, but we’re not in it for the awards.