Sleeper picks, darkhorse candidates and bad jokes
With spring training beginning in earnest Monday with the Orioles’ first pitchers and catchers workout, this seemed like a fine time to talk about our darkhorse candidates to make the club’s 2011 Opening Day roster.
Our buddy over at masnsports.com, Roch Kubatko, is going with recently signed right-handed reliever David Riske. An interesting pick since there could be a spot available in the bullpen and Riske, before arm surgeries, was a quality big-league reliever.
I will warn you, however, that a couple years ago Roch had more confidence in Brad Hennessey’s chances of making the club out of spring than Brad Hennessey’s parents did in their own son. So Rocco’s past selections are checkered.
Then there is my Sun colleague Jeff Zrebiec, who has gone on record as saying Ryan Drese is his sleeper pick. Drese was once a successful starter – winning 14 games for Buck Showalter and the Texas Rangers in 2004 – but the big right-hander hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2006. That’s not sleeping; that’s hibernation. That’s an actuary training video.
Sun columnist Peter Schmuck, who is still living off his Wilfrido Perez three-pointer shot in the dark a few years ago, has selected outfielder Randy Winn. No one doubts the veteran’s character or ability to be a back-up outfielder, but that field is pretty crowded right now.
That leaves me. My initial (and substantial) gut instinct is infielder Robert Andino, who was placed on waivers at the end of last spring but remained in the organization. Cesar Izturis is the projected utility infielder, leaving Andino, Jake Fox, Brendan Harris and Nick Green likely battling for one other bench spot. Andino’s ability to play third base helps and Showalter likes the kid after his play last September.
That’s exactly why Zrebiec has discounted my pick, calling me unprintable names for my lack of risk and creativity. So, I’ll give you a sleeper/deep REM pick: Right-handed reliever Mitch Atkins.
Atkins is only 25, pitched five games in the big leagues last year and -- perhaps most important -- is a former Chicago Cub, which gets you to the front of the Orioles’ roster line.
By the way, I get extra credit if Andino and Atkins both make the club.
We’re taking ideas from you as well.
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