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2014 Orioles Spring Training Preview: Non-roster Invitees

February 17, 2014

During the past two years, the Orioles have used 52 players each season. Their roster now holds 40 players. You do the math. Sooner or later, someone not currently on the 40-man roster -- or maybe a dozen someones -- will be logging some playing time with the Birds. Which non-roster invitees to spring training have the best chance of finding themselves in Baltimore this year?


Aceves, 31, has a history of pitching in the American Leauge East, having spent three seasons apiece with the Yankees and Red Sox. But he also has a history of being a nuisance, getting suspended by the Red Sox in 2012 for confrontations with then-manager Bobby Valentine and continuing his troublesome antics in 2013. When Aceves has his head on straight, he can be a quality reliever, as evidenced by his 3.69 career ERA and 29 saves. He has a good chance to crack the Birds' bullpen, but only if he can behave himself -- manager Buck Showalter likely won't put up with any nonsense.


A longtime friend of O's center fielder Adam Jones, Berry, 29, has had a less distinguished big league career, with a .711 OPS during parts of two seasons. Berry's main weapon, though, is his speed. He went 24-for-24 in stolen-base attempts during his regular-season career, and he snuck onto Boston's 2013 playoff roster to serve exclusively as a pinch runner, swiping another three bags without getting caught. Berry might spend most of the year in the minors, but if the O's find themselves in contention in September, he could prove to be a valuable speedster off the bench.


Orioles 2013: Alexi Casilla (fielding)

Speaking of speedsters, the Orioles are giving another look to Casilla, who spent the entire 2013 season on the club's roster, providing speed and defense, but little else. Casilla spent most of the year buried on the bench, appearing in 62 of the Birds' 162 games, but he seemed to accept his role as a utility infielder who made sporadic starts. Casilla's ability to back up J.J. Hardy at shortstop could give him a leg up on the utility infielder competition.


Paul, 29, has 335 games of experience with three big league teams, and the Reds used him to great effect as a bat off the bench in 2013 -- he produced a .909 OPS in 36 plate appearances as a pinch hitter. Paul is nothing special defensively, but he could play a role as a useful bench player for the Birds, who often struggled to find viable pinch hitters in 2013. If nothing else, he would help the Orioles replenish their stock of Xaviers on the roster after their trade of Xavier Avery last year.


You'll rarely find a more enigmatic and star-crossed player than Young. Young's career has taken a precipitous fall since Tampa Bay drafted him with the first overall pick of the 2003 amateur draft. Once touted as a five-tool player, Young has gained weight through the years and lost his speed and range (which is why he probably has a better chance of making the roster as a DH than an outfielder). He's also had off-field troubles, including a hate crime arrest in New York in 2012 after he allegedly tackled a man and yelled anti-Semitic slurs. But if Young has put his checkered past behind him, he can potentially serve a purpose for the Orioles in one specific role: hitting left-handed pitchers. Young is a career .812 OPS hitter against lefties, slugging .471. The question is whether the Birds would have the roster flexibility to carry a defensively challenged platoon DH.

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