A few early spring standouts

SARASOTA, Fla. - We're only three games into the exhibition schedule. Much too early to draw any conclusions. Much too early to ...

Oh, who am I kidding? Let's take a look at a few Orioles who have grabbed my attention.

Jonathan Schoop came off the bench yesterday and delivered a two-run double in the ninth inning of the Orioles' 8-6 loss to the Red Sox. The ball slammed off the replica Green Monster at JetBlue Park. The kid is swinging the bat like a man.

The Orioles want Schoop, their top position prospect, to play second base every day at Triple-A Norfolk. He's trying to force them to rethink that plan.

His time is coming, folks. It may not be March 31, but it's coming.

The competition for backup catcher isn't particularly sexy, but every team carries two catchers. Matt Wieters won't be behind the plate for 162 games. And Steve Clevenger is making an early statement with three hits and two RBIs in six at-bats.

Eddie Gamboa has faced four batters and struck out three of them. His fastball touches the low 90s. His knuckleball registers in the low 60s. He's got to be on the club's radar again.

Delmon Young had two hits and an RBI yesterday. He almost took down the television platform at Ed Smith Stadium with his home run in an intrasquad game.

Can Young and Nelson Cruz co-exist on the 25-man roster? What about Young, Cruz and Nolan Reimold? OK, how about Young, Cruz, Reimold and Steve Pearce?

Not backing down yet? Fine. What about Young, Cruz, Reimold, Pearce and Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar?

I kept it simple for manager Buck Showalter yesterday by whittling it down to Young and Cruz. Showalter responded by suggesting that Cruz would play left field against left-handers and an opening remained for a right-handed designated hitter.

Yes, that could be you, Delmon Young.

Does this mean that Showalter is envisioning a platoon of Cruz and David Lough in left, with Cruz perhaps moving to DH against right-handers? Or am I drawing conclusions after only three games?

Anyway, the Orioles are back in Sarasota today for a 1:05 p.m. game against the Twins. Bud Norris is starting, with Kevin Gausman, Darren O'Day and Tommy Hunter also scheduled to pitch.

Vance Worley and Treveor May are listed as two of the Twins pitchers.

The clubhouse opens to the media at 8 a.m. Stay tuned for today's lineup, which will be heavy in regulars.

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