SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter will post his lineup for today’s exhibition opener against the Minnesota Twins after the media arrives at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
It’s safe to assume that Nate McLouth will start in left field, since Showalter indicated that most of his “regulars” will play the first few innings, the Twins are starting right-hander Kevin Correia and Nolan Reimold is being eased into competition. The left-handed-hitting McLouth seems like a certainty.
Whether he’s batting leadoff is another matter. Brian Roberts will start at second base, and he most likely will be placed atop the order.
McLouth had a double and two walks among his four plate appearances in two intrasquad games. The double came on the first pitch thrown by left-hander Zach Britton, but McLouth also showed patience in working the count and drawing the walks.
“It’s weird,” he said yesterday. “Sometimes, you step in the box in spring training and it’s like you’ve never been there before. Sometimes, you step in and you feel OK. I felt pretty decent.
“Sometimes, early in spring training, I like to get a few swings off early in at-bats, like I did in my very first at-bat of the intrasquad game. It just depends. But I’m feeling pretty good overall.”
Teammates marveled at McLouth’s double, describing it as a “pea” and a “bb” off the left-center field fence.
“I wanted to get a swing off early,” he said. “You can stand up there and take pitches all day and see them, but that game swing, it’s just a different speed than any BP swing or anything like that. For me, it’s important to get some swings off early.”
Or to be patient.
McLouth is a career .223/.303/.346 hitter against left-handed pitching, compared to a .257/.346/.447 line against right-handers. He mostly was exposed to southpaws in the intrasquad games.
“I’m actually glad that, I’ve only had four at-bats, but I’ve faced three lefties,” he said. “I like that. I don’t mind it anytime, but I like it especially early in spring training, to see some lefties and kind of get more comfortable there. I’m happy with how I’m seeing the ball so far.”
The Orioles re-signed McLouth at the Winter Meetings after fearing that he was headed to the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I’m glad it worked out the way it did,” he said.
So are the Orioles.
Update: Roberts is leading off today and McLouth is batting second.