Because we’re still in the month of December and the Orioles’ roster isn’t set for spring training, it’s a real challenge to project starters at certain positions and which four players will comprise the bench. You’d have to be pretty ambitious or bored. Or you’d have to be fulfilling a request, which is where I come into play.
I tried to come up with four reserves for a national publication, and I could only feel certain about the backup catcher. Thank you, Taylor Teagarden, for making my life a little easier.
I also put Nolan Reimold on the bench, but only because there’s room for one left fielder and Nate McLouth got the nod. I could have gone either way.
Alexi Casilla is my super-utility guy, though he easily could be slotted as the starting second baseman. It all depends on Brian Roberts, who told me in November that he was “probably ahead of where I’d normally be in the offseason for the first time in a long time.”
As long as Roberts thinks he can play, I’ll write his name in a projected lineup. I can always adjust later if necessary.
That leaves one more spot on the bench, which takes us to first base and designated hitter.
Chris Davis currently is the in-house candidate to start at first, which probably gives us a DH platoon unless executive vice president Dan Duquette can locate another bat. Forced again to choose, I would list Wilson Betemit as the DH, knowing that he’s only good from the left side if you check his splits.
Danny Valencia could be the fourth reserve, platooning with Betemit and backing up Manny Machado at third base. Outfielder Trayvon Robinson is out of options and will be given every chance to earn a spot. There’s also outfielder Steve Pearce, infielders Yamaico Navarro and Ryan Flaherty, and first basemen Conor Jackson and Travis Ishikawa, among others.
Would manager Buck Showalter prefer a more versatile reserve than Ishikawa, who’s played 268 major league games at first base and three in right field? Or would he welcome Ishikawa’s defense, especially if Davis struggles at first?
At least one more roster move is coming with an opening on the 40-man. Another candidate could emerge. Maybe a full-time DH or first baseman is acquired and Betemit attains reserve status.
Your guess is as good as mine.