Tomorrow marks the first official full squad workout for the Baltimore Orioles in the 2013 season, as all players are required to be at Spring Training today, with position players officially joining the workouts tomorrow. In the final part of our Spring Training preview we will take a look at the infielders. If you missed the first three parts of our Spring Training preview, you can find them here, part one, two and three.
Before we start previewing the infielders, let's recap the list of both non-roster invites and 40-man roster players that will be in the Orioles Spring Training camp:
45 Travis Ishikawa
69 Niuman Romero
40-Man Roster Players:
Unlike all of the other positions on the field, the infield is pretty much designated to the 40-man roster players with one exception. Travis Ishikawa, who GM/VP Dan Duquette really seems to like, will have a legitimit shot at earning a roster spot because of his sound defense at first base. The big question mark with Chris Davis at first is his defense, Baltimore knows that he can hit as he proved that last year, leading the team in home runs and RBI, but his struggles defensively give Ishikawa a slim chance to make the team. Ishikawa will have to basically hit the cover off the ball in order to make Buck Showalter want to add him to the roster because it appears Danny Valencia and Wilson Betemit have the inside track, but Valencia does have options left, so Ishikawa is ultimately battling Valencia.
Three of the infield positions are set with Manny Machado, JJ Hardy and Davis, but second base seems to be wide open due to the uncertainty of Brian Roberts health. It will be an all out battle between Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla this Spring to win at least the utility infielder spot, if not the starting job at second base.
Outside of second base, another battle will be taking place for the DH spot in the lineup, but it will not just be infielders competing for that spot, but outfielders such as Nolan Reimold, Nate McLouth, and Conor Jackson will also be in the mix, along with Wilson Betemit, Valencia and Russ Canzler.
Despite knowing he will be the starting short stop, Hardy will be a player to watch this Spring as Baltimore is hoping he can return the offensive numbers he showed back in 2011, after he struggled a bit in 2012 as his bat will have a huge influence on the Orioles success in 2013. Another player to watch will be Manny Machado as it will be his first full year in the big leagues and many are anxious to see how he will handle a full work load in the Majors and if he will be able to make the adjustments at the plate after pitchers have been able to watch film on him all winter.
It will certainly be an exciting Spring Training to watch with so many battles for spots in the active 25-man roster up for grabs, and the Orioles will play their first exhibition game a week from tomorrow on February 23.
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