Three more days until the pitchers and catchers report to spring training at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota. Three more days until the beat crew slips into a brand new routine.
The clubhouse will open to the media from 8-9 a.m. Workouts last until about 12:30 p.m., with the clubhouse reopening for an hour.
Manager Buck Showalter will meet with reporters and other media types following the workouts, when he’ll be asked about bullpen sessions and pitchers’ fielding practice. The challenge is crafting fresh questions to cut through the monotony.
The lineup seems mostly set with Hyun Soo Kim in left field, Adam Jones in center, Manny Machado at third base, J.J. Hardy at shortstop, Jonathan Schoop at second base, Chris Davis at first base and Matt Wieters behind the plate. Mark Trumbo is expected to be the primary designated hitter, but as I wrote yesterday, there’s a scenario where he becomes the starter in right field.
Signing free agent Pedro Alvarez would adjust Trumbo’s role again, just as he went from first base to DH after the Orioles re-signed Davis to a seven-year, $161 million deal.
Trumbo has played 365 games at first base, 141 in right field, 129 in left and nine at third base. He’s more comfortable at first, and the Orioles agree that it’s his best position, but they’d be willing to make the adjustment for Alvarez.
A scout from outside the organization has watched Trumbo play the outfield in the majors and Venezuela. He offers a more favorable scouting report than others presented to me.
“I know him, and he happens to be a really, really good athlete,” the scout said. “I would make sort of an analogy with (Steve) Pearce. I saw Pearce come up at the same age in Pittsburgh’s organization and I saw Trumbo. Trumbo’s a better athlete, a better hitter and better power than Pearce.
“In my mind, he’ll be a 50 in outfield. That’s average. Fifty-five is solid average. He’s not going to hurt you out there. He’s athletic in the outfield. He’ll be fine. He’s got a good arm, he’s a good athlete, he’s a good fielder.
“He’ll also be fine at first base. I think Davis is a little bit better defensively, but again, he’s a 50. He’s a fringy average defender with a plus arm. He actually runs well and he’s got power. If he gets like 500-550 at-bats, he’s going to hit 25 to 30 home runs in that ballpark. He’s got power and he’s going to knock in runs. He’s a legit middle of the order bat. He fits in nicely.
“He’s not a liability. He’s way better than (Nelson) Cruz in the outfield. He’s not a liability out there at all. He’ll swing the bat. He can hit. He’ll struggle a little bit against the breaking ball at times like a lot of right-handers do, but he’s going to do damage. And he’s a good kid, too. No issues with him. He’s a pretty intense player, comes to play.”
The scout didn’t think it mattered whether Trumbo played left or right.
“I think he’ll be fine, especially in right field because it’s a little bit smaller area than left,” he said. “He has enough arm to play there. I don’t think there’s an issue. He can play either one.
“You’re not going to say, ‘Oh, man, we’ve got to get him out of there.’ It’s not like you’ve got to put a defender out there for him. Now if you’ve got a plus defender in the late innings, sure, but you’d do the same thing with Pearce. But if he had to be your everyday guy, I don’t see any issues with that.”