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Will Orioles' Cast Of Extras Get Chance To Star?

February 6, 2014

No matter how Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter slice it, come March 31, the Orioles will have 25 players on their roster, plus reliever Troy Patton, who will serve a 25-game suspension after testing positive for amphetamines on an MLB drug test.

If the Orioles can agree that catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Manny Machado, shortstop J.J. Hardy, second baseman Ryan Flaherty, first baseman Chris Davis, outfielder David Lough, center fielder Adam Jones, right fielder Nick Markakis and outfielder Delmon Young are all going to stick, that likely leaves Steve Clevenger as backup catcher. The Orioles would then likely put three other position players on the roster.

Then, looking at a 12-man pitching staff to start, and assuming that Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day, Ryan Webb and Tommy Hunter will all stick, the pitching battles on the mound in Sarasota , Fla., would amount to two or three spots. Remember, part of Duquette's proclamation that the team still has work to do is that it will add a starter or a starter and reliever to the mix.

That means that for all the smoke, mirrors and names being bandied about at a feverish clip now, there may be two truly open pitching spots available, and three position playing spots truly available. For position players, there are probably heavy favorites such as Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce, Henry Urrutia, Alexi Casilla and Jemile Weeks, who could fill at least two of the three possible holes.

As for pitchers, if the O's sign two significant pitchers, there could be 20-plus candidates fighting for just one spot once Patton reclaims his spot in the bullpen. That's provided Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland or Chris Jones doesn't jump up and steal Patton's spot.

Britton, along with Kevin Gausman, Steve Johnson, Alfredo Aceves, Josh Stinson, Brad Brach and Liam Hendriks might stand head and shoulders above another gaggle of arms.

Orioles Spring Training Roster: Pitchers
list includes non-roster invitees (as of Feb. 6)

Wei-Yin Chen, LHP
Brian Matusz, LHP
Bud Norris, RHP
Tommy Hunter, RHP
Chris Tillman, RHP
Kevin Gausman, RHP
Brad Brach, RHP
Troy Patton, LHP -- restricted list (does not count toward 40-man limit)
Evan Meek, RHP
Dylan Bundy, RHP
Miguel Gonzalez, RHP
Steve Johnson, RHP
Zach Britton, LHP
Darren O'Day, RHP
Ryan Webb, RHP
Edgmer Escalona, RHP
Josh Stinson, RHP
Kelvin De La Cruz, LHP
Liam Hendriks, RHP
Mike Belfiore, LHP
T.J. McFarland, LHP
Fabio Castillo, RHP
Brock Huntziner, RHP
Mike Wright, RHP
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
Tim Berry, LHP
Chris Jones, LHP
Nick Additon, LHP
Tim Alderson, RHP
Eddie Gamboa, RHP
Alfredo Aceves, RHP

Among the catchers, Clevenger, a  Mount   St. Joseph graduate, would appear to have the backup job, but the Orioles have Johnny Monell as an option as well.

Orioles Spring Training Roster: Catchers
list includes non-roster invitees (as of Feb. 6)

Matt Wieters
Steve Clevenger
Johnny Monell
Caleb Joseph
Michael Ohlman
Brian Ward

The intrigue for the infield will be if Weeks, the supposed scant return for the Orioles' trade of closer Jim Johnson, can make a lasting first impression. Based on pure skill set, Weeks and his versatility could help him win the job. It's assumed that Jonathan Schoop won't win enough regular at bats to vaunt him above Weeks or Alexi Casilla. One last-minute entry is Alex Gonzalez, who could provide valuable insurance in case of an injury at shortstop.

Orioles Spring Training Roster: Infielders
list includes non-roster invitees (as of Feb. 6)

J.J. Hardy
Ryan Flaherty
Jonathan Schoop
Alexi Casilla 
Manny Machado
Chris Davis
Jemile Weeks
Alex Gonzalez
Michael Almanzar
Chris  Marrero
Ivan De Jesus Jr.
Cord Phelps

Jones, Markakis and Lough could be the everyday outfielders, and Reimold could be Lough's platoon partner if he can stay healthy. Young could be the designated hitter against all left-handed pitching. Much will depend on how well Lough hits lefties -- the Orioles could keep a sixth outfielder type, or Weeks' versatility in being able to play outfield might just win him the last spot on the roster.

Orioles Spring Training Roster: Outfielders
list includes non-roster invitees (as of Feb. 6)

Adam Jones
Nolan Reimold
David Lough
Nick Markakis
Delmon Young
Steve Pearce
Quintin  Berry
Xavier Paul
Julio Borbon
Henry Urrutia
Francisco Peguero