There hasn’t been a lack of storylines this spring training for the Orioles, and with another three weeks to go, it will only intensify. At this point, the 25-man roster begins to take shape, but it has been difficult to predict the final spots and I can see it changing numerous times over the next couple of weeks.
AS THE OUTFIELD TURNS
I’m not going to shock anyone when I predict that the Alvarez signing will not work. I’m shocked that a guy like Alvarez, who can mash the baseball, could not find a designated hitter role with another American League team. I think this just shows that teams want versatile players and don’t want to be handcuffed into having players who can only do one thing.
Alvarez will have to swallow his pride and ride the bus in Norfolk to try and prove that he can play the outfield, but it will be hard for him to crack the big league roster unless there’s an injury. My guess is he ends up opting out of his contract when he is allowed.
I’m also guessing Dan Duquette didn’t ask Adam Jones to sign off on the potential of having Alvarez playing to his left in 2017.
As for Mancini, this was a move that was destined to happen after the Orioles re-signed Mark Trumbo. I wish they would have done this earlier in camp, but with Mancini once again raking, the team needed to make a decision. I have no idea if this move will work out, but the team can be more patient with Mancini as he is here for the long-term.
I learned a long time ago that if you can hit, a team will find a spot for you. Mancini can flat out hit and the Orioles realize they would be wasting a good player that could help the team if they send him back to Triple-A or if he sits on the bench for the big club.
The move to the outfield doesn’t mean both of those things still won’t happen, but it at least gives the Orioles more options for a player that is good enough to make an impact on a team that is trying to make the postseason.
TILLMAN SUFFERS SETBACK
Out of all the injuries this spring, Chris Tillman’s injury was always the most serious and unfortunately, it appears the Orioles will have to accept that they will be without their ace for at least the first month of the season and perhaps much longer.
I was on the Doug Fister train last year coming off a down season, but he has now had two bad seasons in a row and is on the wrong side of 30.
There’s no sugarcoating this: this is as bad as it gets and no matter who wins the job, the drop-off will be significant.
I’m rooting for Lee, as his upside is greater than that of anybody else I’ve mentioned. The only issue is the left-hander has never pitched above Double-A and was limited to eight games in 2016. It will probably be too much of stretch to ask Lee to get big league hitters out every five days to start the season.
The frustrating part about all of this is for once, I thought the starting pitching was not going to be a weakness, no matter what the outsiders are saying. However, this is once again a huge question mark and Buck Showalter will have to work his magic in order to keep this team competing for when and if Tillman does finally return.