More on Mancini and the possibility of playing the outfield

Chris Davis has six years remaining on his $161 million deal with the Orioles. He isn’t budging off first base next season unless it’s the occasional at-bats as the designated hitter.

Trey Mancini is the top first base prospect in the organization and one of its best young position players. He’s obviously blocked by Davis, which leads fans and media to wonder whether he could move to the outfield.

I’ve done some digging and the best I can come up with is this:

Maybe.

At the very least, the Orioles could take a look at Mancini in the outfield in spring training. Not the same commitment they made to Christian Walker, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk in March with instructions to play left field in the International League. Just a look.

Trey-Mancini-high-fives-white-sidebar.jpgThe question is whether Mancini’s arm would play in the outfield. There are some doubters, which is the reason why he stayed at first base this year.

One person in the organization said, “If I’m running things, the day we signed Davis, I would have been thinking about that.”

But will the Orioles act upon it?

Manager Buck Showalter suggested that Mancini could compete for Mark Trumbo’s spot if the latter departs as a free agent. He’s referencing a right-handed bat, with power, who could be the designated hitter and also spell Davis at first base.

That’s D-A-V-I-S. Maybe he’ll write it in the dirt.

But seriously ...

There’s room for Davis and Mancini on the opening day roster, as I’ve written in the past. An outfielder’s glove isn’t a requirement. But maybe we’ll see Mancini shagging fly balls. I don’t see a downside to experimenting with him.

Walker hadn’t played the position until last spring. He made 90 starts in left with the Tides, committed three errors and had three assists. Reports on his defense vary, but none of them suggest a Gold Glove Award in his immediate future.

It wouldn’t be fair to expect Walker to become Alex Gordon overnight. But remember that Gordon was drafted as a third baseman. They don’t all look like Billy Rowell, the former first-round pick who moved from third base to right field and couldn’t judge a fly ball to save his life.

(The Orioles never should have moved Rowell off third base at that stage of his career and it created more tension between scouting and player development. The kid had enough on his plate without putting him at a position that embarrassed him. But I digress ...)

“Walker got better,” said director of player development Brian Graham. “I think he did a good job in the outfield. He definitely got better.

“It’s about reactions to the ball off the bat and also his routes. I think he’s an outfielder and a first baseman both. I think the fact he can play the outfield and first base is a huge plus.”

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