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Baltimore Orioles Spring Training Preview: Part Two – Catchers/Role Players

February 13th, 2013 at 7:55 AM
By Josh Michael

Yesterday was the official start to Spring Training for the Baltimore Orioles as pitchers and catchers reported to camp, and although nothing much went on yesterday but physicals, it still brought baseball into 2013. Today in part two of our Spring Training preview, we will examine the catchers and role players.

Today will be the first official workout for the pitchers and catchers, and yesterday in part one of our Spring Training preview we examined the pitchers, but now let's take a look at the catchers that will be in camp followed by the battle for the final bench spots on the Orioles 25 man roster as role players.

'Matt Wieters Gold Glove Award' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Non-roster invitees catchers:

73 Allan de San Miguel
74 Jose Gil
60 Luis Martinez
63 Chris Robinson

40-man roster catchers:

59 Luis Exposito
31 Taylor Teagarden
32 Matt Wieters

The catcher discussion is fortunately, a short one since the depth chart at catcher will be the same as it was last season with the All-Star Matt Wieters and back-up Taylor Teagarden. Luis Exposito will start the year in Norfolk and will be the next man up if an injury were to hit either Wieters or Teagarden. The interesting part will be whether or not Teagarden can improve his approach at the plate because Wieters, who is coming off a career high 134 games behind the plate in 2012, will need to be able to get more rest in order to keep him fresher later in the season, thus Teagarden's offensive production will be a huge influence on Wieters games behind the plate.

Now let's examine the battle for the final bench spots for the Orioles active 25-man roster. The battle will be for two or three spots, depending on how many pitchers manager Buck Showalter decides to keep in the bullpen. If he elects to have eight in the pen, there are three total bench spots, but one will be occupied by Teagarden. Now even though that only leaves two spots open on the bench, the battle is still for three total positions because no one is entering camp as the everyday DH.

 

'Nate McLouth' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

With three roster spots up for battle, we first must acknowledge what a team's needs are on the bench. Baltimore will need a fourth outfielder, a utility infielder, and preferably a corner infielder, thus there will be some key battles to watch for during Spring Training. First on the list will be for that fourth outfielder spot, and although Nolan Reimold has not been "officially" given the starting left field job, we can safely assume if he stays healthy he at least has a guaranteed roster spot so it will be interesting to watch Nate McLouth, Conor Jackson, Xavier Avery and L.J. Hoes during Spring Training to see who is sticking out amongst the extra outfielders. Another big IF scenario heading into Spring Training is second base because it can be assumed, if healthy, Brian Roberts will be starting at second base, so the utility infielder battle will be fun to watch between Ryan Flaherty, Alexi Casilla and Yamaico Navarro. Finally a corner infield battle will take place, but could ultimately be all for not because you can't fathom that Baltimore will cut or release Wilson Betemit, so that puts Danny Valencia in a tough spot.

So who will make the cut? Ultimately, as Showalter wants it to be, it will come down to Spring Training performances by the aforementioned players to see who will break camp with the big league club. McLouth, barring a horrid Spring or injury, will earn that fourth outfield spot, and honestly could end up being the everyday left fielder as I believe Reimold will end up being the DH more often than playing in the field. As for the utility infielder spot, I give Casilla the inside track to land that job due to his ability to play all over the infield and can even play in the outfield in a pinch, plus the speed he can bring on the base paths goes a long was as well. I believe Flaherty, who now has options available, will begin the year in Norfolk so he can get some consistent at bats and work on his approach at the plate. As I mentioned before, Betemit will get the final bench spot as the extra corner infielder, thus Valencia, who does have options remaining will likely start the year in Norfolk, but with an injury to Reimold or Roberts, Valencia would likely be the first man called up.

Who do you think makes the cut for the final bench spots? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!


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Tags: Alexi Casilla, Baltimore, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Matt Wieters, MLB, Nate McLouth, Ryan Flaherty, Taylor Teagarden, Wilson Betemit

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