8 Orioles Fighting for Roster Spots in Spring Training
Like every team in Major League Baseball, the Baltimore Orioles have a smorgasbord of players attending spring training.
These players can be organized into three groups. There are the starting players who are warming up and getting in shape for the season. There are the players who have virtually no shot of making the team, whether they're a prospect or not. And finally there are the fringe players who have to compete for the last few roster spots.
This article will go over some the players in that last group. Here are eight Orioles fighting for roster spots in spring training.
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Jake Arrieta's stock has plummeted since his Opening Day start just a year ago. He was a surprise choice to start that day and he did pitch a stellar game but his 2012 expectations were still not met in any way, as he went 3-9 with a 6.20 ERA.
A major issue Arrieta had last season was pitching out of the stretch. With no one on base, Arrieta held his opponents to a .255 average and only allowed 16 walks in 263 at-bats.
With runners on base, opponents hit .296 and walked 19 times in 186 at-bats. Move those runners into scoring position and opponents hit .319.
So for the most part, when runners got on base, they scored.
Arrieta must prove his worth and prove he can pitch out of the stretch in spring training if he wants to make the team.
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Zach Britton is another young pitcher who needs to improve a bit if he wants to keep his spot on the Orioles.
The lefty was inconsistent in 2012, as he went 5-3 with a 5.07 ERA in 11 starts and a relief appearance.
Britton has good stuff and can keep the ball in the park with his sinker, but his control must improve. Over 60.1 innings, the 25-year-old allowed 32 walks.
Britton may be the favorite to for the fifth rotation spot; however, he's young and could still be sent to Triple-A. So, he must pitch well in spring training to get that role.
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So much for thinking the Orioles were done adding starting pitching depth.
The 27-year-old has pitched well in the minors over the last few years, but struggled last season in his major league debut, allowing four runs in 3.1 innings and surrendering five walks. That start remains his only appearances in the majors.
Redmond, along with Arrieta, Britton, Brian Matusz, Steve Johnson, Tommy Hunter and Rule 5 draft pick TJ McFarland, will compete for that final rotation come spring training.
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Russ Canzler, another brand new addition, will compete for a backup job in Sarasota.
Buck Showalter loves versatility and Canzler has that going for him, as he can play first, third and the outfield. Canzler could also provide another solid bat, as he belted 25 homers between Triple-A and the majors last season.
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Alexi Casilla's place on the Orioles' roster will likely rest on the health of Brian Roberts. However, a solid spring training could be enough to steal him a roster spot.
The 28-year-old is known more for his glove than his bat, as he is about as average as you get at the plate, sporting a career .250 average. However, Casilla is known for having the walk-off hit in the 2009 AL Central tiebreaker game against Detroit.
If Brian Roberts suffers any setbacks in spring training, Casilla could be in line to start Opening Day at second base. But if Roberts is healthy, Casilla could be out of a job.
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Xavier Avery will need to figure out how to get on base at a greater rate if he has any hopes of making the Opening Day roster.
The 23-year-old speedster does have a good eye, as his 51 walks in 102 games in Triple-A last year demonstrate. However, he chased too many bad pitches in his time with the O's.
His batting average also leaves much to be desired. A .236 Triple-A average and a .223 major league average isn't very impressive.
If Avery can improve his contact percentage, he can improve is average and perhaps get a role as a backup outfielder for the O's.
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Before getting sick back in 2009, Jackson was productive as an everyday first baseman and outfielder for the Diamondbacks, and he even hit .300 in 2008. Hopefully, he can find the swing he had back then and make a compelling argument in spring training for a roster spot.
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Along with Nate McLouth, Lew Ford was a surprise midseason minor league signing hero for the O's in 2012.
After bouncing around from the minors to the Japanese league, to the Mexican league and to other independent leagues, the 36-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the O's in May of last year and got the call-up to the majors for the first time since late July 2007.
Despite only hitting .187, Ford hit a few timely homers and became somewhat of a cult hero because of his unusual career path. The traveled veteran also went 3-for-8 in the ALDS against the Yankees.
Ford may have a better shot than younger talent like Avery or LJ Hoes to steal a roster spot, solely because he's a veteran. However, he still has to play well in spring training to make the Orioles' roster.