Lough likes idea of leading off

SARASOTA, Fla. - It's too early to read anything into pitching orders and lineups, but somebody had to bat leadoff today and Orioles manager Buck Showalter chose left fielder David Lough.

Nick Markakis is considered the frontrunner to bat first this season, but he easily could drop down if he's back to driving the ball and considered more valuable in a run production spot.

Lough, a career .278/.308/.396 hitter in parts of two major league seasons, led off in 36 games with the Royals. He batted seventh in 35.

"I've led off in the past before for teams," he said. "It's a spot that I feel comfortable in. Obviously, if you look at my stats, on-base and all that stuff, how I look at it is I can improve on all that stuff and I can become a leadoff hitter if that's what they want me to be. It's just something you have to work on.

"It's a comfort level thing, but it's just one at-bat when you're leading off, technically. As long as you don't look into it too much, it's just another spot in the lineup."

Lough is 6-for-8 in stolen bases in the majors, but he swiped 26 in 30 attempts with Triple-A Omaha in 2012.

"I feel like I'm a 30-bag capable guy," Lough said. "There's no excuse for it. I think last year was just getting comfortable up there. At times it seemed like I was afraid to make a mistake with Kansas City, being first called up and winning the right field job. I didn't want to make that mistake and get thrown out and do those things that would look bad upon me.

"Now that I'm comfortable up here in the big leagues, I feel like I can steal 30 bags and I should."

The Orioles will observe a moment of silence for Monica Pence Barlow before today's game. MLB Network aired a tribute last night.

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