Five Orioles who have helped their roster chances; five who have hurt them
If the rains stop, the Orioles (5-5-2) will face the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight at McKechnie Field. Brad Bergesen, Josh Rupe and Jeremy Accardo will pitch for the Orioles, while Paul Maholm will start for Pittsburgh.
We’re about a week and a half into the Grapefruit League season now, so I think it’s appropriate to look at five guys who have helped their chances of making the squad and five guys who have hurt their chances so far in camp.
FIVE WHO HAVE HELPED THEMSELVES
Nolan Reimold – Outfielder looking and acting like a completely different guy than he was all of last year. He’s running well and swinging a potent bat with a .320 average, two homers, six RBIs and four walks. If there is indeed a competition for the fourth outfield spot, Reimold has outplayed Felix Pie thus far.
Zach Britton – When camp started about 3 1/2 weeks ago, I figured the organization’s top pitching prospect had no chance to make the Opening Day roster. Knowing the Orioles don’t want to start his salary and service clock now, I still don’t like his chances. But at the very least, he has given the club something to think about with five scoreless innings, including three against the New York Yankees.
Jake Fox – Orioles manager Buck Showalter predicted that Fox would have a great spring, and the burly utility man has done just that so far, hitting .385 with three homers, three doubles and six RBIs. There are obvious concerns about Fox’s defense, and Showalter’s comment that the player is contending primarily for the backup catcher spot doesn’t appear to work in his favor. However, the guy runs into fastballs, and his versatility would appear to be an asset on the bench.
Ryan Drese – The 34-year-old journeyman has allowed one earned run in seven innings. He certainly had some luck last night as the Red Sox mashed several balls right at Orioles. But Showalter and pitching coach Mark Connor like him from their days together in Texas. Is he a very long shot? Absolutely. But that Showalter and Connor opted to get him a start, rather than giving it to another fifth starter or swing man candidate, at least says something.
Clay Rapada – In his first appearance with the Orioles, Rapada gave up a wind-aided homer to Lyle Overbay. But other than that, the submarine-style southpaw reliever, whom left-handed hitters went 1-for-19 against in the big leagues last year, has been pretty dominant, allowing just two hits in four innings while striking out four. At this point, it’s fair to say he has emerged as a front-runner for one of the two or three available bullpen spots.
FIVE WHO HAVE HURT THEIR CHANCES
Robert Andino – The talented but enigmatic infielder is having a spring very similar to the one he had last year, when he was designated for assignment after the addition of Julio Lugo. He’s hitting .158 and has been involved in several defensive breakdowns. Showalter obviously thinks there is something there, and hitting coach Jim Presley knows Andino well from their days in Florida. But the 26-year-old has to show much more.
Chris Tillman – If Justin Duchscherer starts season on the disabled list, I still believe Tillman will be the fifth starter. And he has pitched well at times, finishing his last outing against the Red Sox in good form. However, he has a 7.20 ERA after two outings and has surrendered seven hits, one walk and hit a batter in five innings. It’s way too early to make any determinations, though the fact remains that the young right-hander has been out-pitched so far by Britton, Drese and others.
Rick VandenHurk – VandenHurk is a great athlete and obviously has a good arm. He’s also out of options, which increases his chances of making the club. He has allowed two earned runs in five innings, which normally wouldn’t get you on this list. Those numbers, however, are a bit deceiving as VandenHurk has walked five batters in five innings and run up a number of other deep counts.
Jason Berken – You had to expect Berken wouldn’t be overly sharp early after he spent the offseason rehabbing his shoulder injury. You also have to give him a ton of credit for coming into camp in great condition. But he hasn’t pitched very well so far, allowing three earned runs, four hits and three walks in three innings. He also has an option remaining.
Nick Green – When the spring began, I had him behind Fox, Andino and Brendan Harris in the battle for the final bench spot. That certainly hasn’t changed. The veteran infielder is hitting .118. He has made two errors and easily could have been charged with two or three more.
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