Leading you on

Who bats leadoff if Brian Roberts is injured again? It's a question that keeps popping up here, and I've been responding that the Orioles could turn to whichever player is acquired as a backup. Felix Pie also would be an option if his anger management classes let out early enough. It's impossible to know for sure in late November, but the Orioles need to find a utility infielder with lots of experience at second base. Robert Andino will compete for a utility job, and he made a pretty solid impression on manager Buck Showalter this summer. But Andino struggled at second in spring training, appearing lost at times as he tried to track pop ups, and the Orioles outrighted him after acquiring Julio Lugo on April 1 for cash considerations. It was a mad scramble in the final days of the exhibition schedule. Hardly the ideal approach. This club has more pressing needs - a third baseman, a first baseman, a big bat for the middle of the lineup - but a quality backup for Roberts shouldn't go ignored. The Orioles were 30-28 this year with Roberts atop the order. They were 20-34 when Corey Patterson replaced him. They were 7-13 with Lugo leading off, 1-7 with Pie, 6-9 with Adam Jones, 0-3 with Lou Montanez, 1-1 with Andino, 0-1 with Cesar Izturis and 1-0 with Nolan Reimold. I'll admit that I totally forgot about Reimold. He batted first in a Sunday afternoon game against the Red Sox. That one slipped my mind. In a perfect world, Roberts will report to spring training in ideal health and stay that way. In the Orioles' world, something bad is bound to happen. They need to be better prepared for it.

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