Could Alex Gonzalez Make Orioles' Opening Day Roster?

Posted on March 17, 2014 by Jim Henneman

SARASOTA, Fla. -- With third baseman Manny Machado now all but officially declared out of the Opening Day lineup, the Orioles have another window of opportunity -- one they'd obviously rather not have to deal with, but nevertheless one that could have a lasting effect on the regular-season roster.

Machado's absence has opened up the possibility that Alex Gonzalez, who was little more than an afterthought when added to the invite list for spring training, could open the season as the Orioles' third baseman. Such an opportunity would also put the veteran Gonzalez in good position to fill the utility infielder role once Machado is cleared to play. Manager Buck Showalter's other option is Ryan Flaherty, who is just about guaranteed to be in the lineup at either second or third base.

Alex Gonzalez

Gonzalez has presented himself well, to borrow a favorite Showalter expression. Flaherty has done nothing this spring to discourage those who think he can develop into an everyday player who hits 20-25 home runs per season in addition to providing sound defense. Jemile Weeks is another second base candidate, and it remains to be seen whether the minor league option he has left will come into play.

Showalter has yet to commit to the makeup of his roster, still trying to decide between 12 and 13 pitchers. With a lineup that will require little, if any, platooning, the extra bench player almost becomes a luxury. It appears that Nelson Cruz is guaranteed at least partial time in the outfield, most likely leaving Nolan Reimold, Delmon Young and Steve Pearce to determine who gets the spot as a right-handed designated hitter.

Reliever Troy Patton's 25-game suspension to open the season has created a similar window of opportunity on the pitching staff. How Zach Britton fares coming out of the bullpen will likely determine Patton's role for the last five months of the season.

***

For the last few springs, one of the most intriguing players in the Orioles' camp has been Caleb Joseph. He shows up every year wearing his catching gear, goes to the minor leagues and swings a productive bat, then is left off the 40-man roster, ignored by other teams during the Rule 5 draft and invited back to the big league camp. The knock against Joseph has been his defense, but given the relative scarcity of good defensive catchers among regulars in the big leagues, you'd think he might warrant a look as somebody's backup/part-time designated hitter.

Joseph was behind the plate during the Orioles' 2-1 win against a Yankees junior varsity team March 15, and it was good to see that Showalter took notice of how he presented himself (there's that phrase again). I've got to think that sooner or later, some team is going to give this guy a chance to prove whether he can hit big league pitching.

Because if there's one thing we've learned through the years, it's that if you can hit in the big leagues, a team will find a place for you in the lineup.

Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com.

See Also:

next up:

Bracket Fever: Local Players To Watch During 2014 NCAA Tournament

March 17, 2014

Maryland may not have made the Big Dance, but there are plenty of local Baltimore and Maryland players to keep an eye on during the NCAA tournament.

Advertisement

Baltimore Top Stories

BASKETBALL CLASSIC

Area Wizards fans enjoyed the chance to see their team in the Baltimore Basketball Classic.

COX DONE FOR YEAR

The Ravens signed former 49ers long snapper Kevin McDermott to fill in for Morgan Cox.

THE SHORT-TERM ORIOLES

PressBox looks at the 10 players who appeared in 10 or fewer games for the 2014 Orioles.

ANOTHER RAVENS STREAK?

The Ravens have not allowed an opposing back to reach 100 yards during their last 17 games.

RAVENS IMPROVE POSITION

If the playoffs began today, the Ravens would host a wild card game against the Chargers.

RAVENS ROUT FALCONS

After thwarting the Falcons at home, the Ravens will pack their bags and visit the Bengals.

LOVE AND INSPIRATION

O.J. and Chanda Brigance have allowed love to turn his battle with ALS into their higher calling.

PressBox: October 2014

Read all the articles, columns and features from PressBox's October 2014 print edition.

Advertisement

Get PressBox's Free Weekly Newsletter

Email:

For Sports Fans

Pregame With PressBox

Pregame with PressBox at the Purple Underground before every Baltimore home game.

Cooking With The Pros

Enjoy a mix of cooking and sports as you learn tailgating recipes alongside the pros.

Lacrosse Newsletter

Sign up for our high school lacrosse email, with interviews, matchups, recruiting and more.

Advertisement
x