The 2014 season saw the Orioles win 96 games, clinch their first American League East title in 17 years and make a run to the American League Championship Series. Yet, as they report to 2015 spring training in Sarasota, Fla., the O's still have their fair share of questions to try to answer at camp. How will their injury-rehabbing stars fare? Can they find quality options to replace key 2014 contributors Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Andrew Miller, who left the team as free agents? Let's take a closer look at some of the Birds' top storylines for spring training.
Orioles Non-Roster Invitee
Every so often, a non-roster veteran takes advantage of a spring training invite to make the club and contribute. Case in point: Delmon Young's career was seemingly on its last legs in 2014, but he played his way onto the Opening Day roster, became a valuable pinch-hitter and delivered one of the biggest postseason hits in O's history, a key three-run double in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against Detroit. Which notable non-roster invitees will be in 2015 camp -- and could one of them be the next Young?
J.P. Arencibia, C
A former Toronto Blue Jays catcher, Arencibia is not exactly an on-base machine. In fact, he's almost historically terrible at it. In 2013, he compiled a .227 OBP in 497 plate appearances, the second-worst mark in baseball history for a player with that many plate appearances. He hasn't held a starting job since. But Arencibia, 29, is known as a capable defensive catcher, and manager Buck Showalter values defense above all else in his backstops. It doesn't hurt that Arencibia has power; he popped 18 or more homers during each of his three seasons as Toronto's regular catcher. The O's will need a third catcher at some point -- perhaps as early as Opening Day, depending on Wieters' health -- and Arencibia is a top candidate for the job.
Mark Hendrickson, LHP
Yes, that Hendrickson. His athletic career has spanned four years in the NBA and 10 years in MLB, most recently with the Orioles from 2009-2011. He's now a 40-year-old grandfather, but he hasn't hung up the cleats yet. He spent 2014 pitching for the independent York Revolution and reinvented himself as a sidearmer, giving hitters a confusing arm angle to track from a 6-foot-9 southpaw. The O's agreed to give him a spring training invite. He stands almost no chance of making the team, but if nothing else, he'll be an interesting story to follow.
Steve Johnson, RHP
It wasn't too long ago -- 2012 -- Johnson provided an inspiring “hometown kid makes good” story, going 4-0 during 12 games for the postseason-bound Orioles. The Baltimore-born Johnson, son of former O's hurler and current MASN broadcaster Dave Johnson, has seen his career stall since then. His 2014 was a lost cause because of a shoulder injury, which required offseason surgery to remove a bone spur. Johnson, 27, could have left the organization as a minor league free agent this winter, but he elected to return to the Birds on a minor league deal. If healthy, he could provide bullpen depth in 2015.
Chris Parmelee, 1B/OF
A former first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, Parmelee has put up prodigious offensive numbers in the minor leagues -- with 105 home runs and a career .820 OPS -- but hasn't seen his success translate to the major league level, posting a sub-.700 OPS during each of the last three years. Parmelee, 26, signed a minor league deal with the Birds hoping to compete for a spot as a lefty-swinging outfielder, but his chances of making the team took a hit when the O's acquired Travis Snider Jan. 27. Still, Parmelee could see big league time at some point in 2015.
Nolan Reimold, OF
He's back. Reimold spent the first five seasons of his career with the Orioles, but amassed less than two seasons' worth of at bats, thanks to a calamitous string of injuries capped by a pair of neck surgeries in consecutive years. The O's sent Reimold packing in 2014, but after brief stints with Toronto and Arizona, he's back with the Birds on a minor league deal. At 31, Reimold is now six years removed from his impressive rookie year with the Orioles, and expectations for him aren't high. But he's a low-cost, low-risk pickup and a sentimental favorite.