Lineup stability eluded Orioles in 2020

We've had some fun trying to construct lineups based on players currently in the organization, knowing that future moves could bring changes.

It's easier to fill the positions than decide on an exact order. And to stick with it.

Thumbnail image for Anthony-Santander-Drives-White-Sidebar.jpgWe can take the 32 starts Anthony Santander made in the second slot and assume he won't budge, or knock him down a peg after José Iglesias was traded to the Angels.

We can put Austin Hays in the leadoff spot, reserve it for Cedric Mullins or cheat a little and go with a platoon.

We can bat Yolmer Sánchez or Freddy Galvis second or stack them at the bottom of the order.

Renato Núñez occupied the cleanup spot more than anyone else on the team, batting fourth in 20 games, but he's no longer in the organization and signed a minor league deal with the Tigers.

Seven different players hit cleanup last year. Seem like a lot? Fourteen players batted eighth and 13 batted seventh.

Whatever order is predicted, keep in mind that the Orioles played 60 games in 2020 and used 58 different lineups.

Manager Brandon Hyde isn't afraid to try different combinations.

He doesn't always have a choice.

The chances of Santander playing for the Orioles seemed to increase this week with the Marlins signing outfielder Adam Duvall. That's the assumption, anyway.

And you know what happens with you assume.

Trey Mancini never made it into the 2020 lineup following his March diagnosis of Stage 3 colon cancer. He's already in Sarasota, Fla., well ahead of the Feb. 21 report date for position players, and taking batting practice.

Mancini has occupied the first eight spots in the lineup in his career. I'll go out on a limb and say he won't be leading off or hitting eighth in 2021.

He's made 95 starts batting second, 82 fifth, 74 third and 70 sixth, for what that's worth. Much of it is predicated on the players around him and where they're suited to hit.

What's important is that Mancini is healthy and hitting.

"You just want to make sure that you still know how to swing and the intricacies of your swing are all still there, the things that kind of make your swing yours," Mancini said this week on MLB Network Radio. "I got in there (cage) and it felt really good. I tried not to blow it out my first session, swing hard out of the gates. You want to swing kind of 50 percent and ease back into it and retrain your muscles.

"It felt really good. It was definitely the most excited I've ever been to hit in a cage because I like hitting on the field way more, but even then, hitting in the cage was really cool."

Mancini and a couple of his teammates hit on the field last week.

"You just want to make sure the ball can still go over the fence and everything," he said.

"The wind was blowing out to left, so yeah, I got one pretty early. I did it early and then reminded myself that I normally swing pretty easy and try to go the opposite way the first couple rounds and then let it loose. But from the gate that first day I was just swinging like my hair was on fire."

Mancini admitted at the beginning of his hour-long segment that he doesn't like seafood and he likes pineapple on his pizza. We won't judge him too harshly.

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