Orioles manager Buck Showalter is expected to pass along his opening day lineup later today.
His players are taking batting practice as I type this entry.
Naturally, Showalter was asked whether there’s a different feeling as opening day approaches. It’s the traditional first question.
“There always is,” he replied. “As much as you know the reality of the length of the season and the grind, it’s always a special day. Families that have made it a tradition for years. You always want to win games, but every time you come out and there’s a big crowd, you really want to play well and you want them to come back and enjoy the experience.
“We’re ready to go. Our guys are ready. They’re tired of hearing my rhetoric. It’s time to face some people for real with a different color jersey on.”
Showalter mentioned that the rotation could be adjusted after the April 12 off-day.
Asked if he considered breaking up the two left-handers, Brian Matusz and Wei-Yin Chen, Showalter replied, “I think that’s overrated, personally. If you can pitch, you can pitch. It doesn’t matter if you can throw between your legs or with both arms.
“We want to give Chen as much time and it’s a good spot for Brian. It just fit best for us going forward and gave us some flexibility to do some things if we need to. And if you understand the dates when some people are eligible to come back (from the disabled list), it all falls the best for us.”
Showalter said the decision to option reliever Zach Phillips was “real hard.”
“We sent guys down that last year would have made the club easily, and Zach’s one of those guys,” Showalter said. “It’s one of those things you don’t try to tell him why. He’ll be back. He had a great spring and we’re lucky to have him and he’s unlucky to have an option.”
Patton is the only left-hander in the bullpen, and he’s on an opening day roster for the first time.
“I think Troy Patton still doesn’t believe me when I told him that he made the club,” Showalter said.
Showalter said he’s pretty much settled on his leadoff and cleanup hitters.
“It may not always be conventional, but I like the options we have,” he said. “We’ll try to be as consistent as our offense allows us to be. We can play a lot of the matchups, depending on who the other pitcher is and some of the history that some of our guys have against him. I’m sure it’ll move around a little bit. I like our options leading off.”
Here’s my prediction for the opening day lineup. Let’s see if I’m right:
Nolan Reimold LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 3B
Wilson Betemit DH
Chris Davis 1B
Robert Andino 2B