Spring Training is in full swing, the MLB season is a little under a month away, and the excitement around the Orioles is growing. There have been a few more injury bugs than I’m sure fans would like, but so far they mostly seem to be minor and nothing that will get in the way of opening day for the Orioles. I am sticking with the positive outlook for the 2011 season and I am focusing on a few players strong starts this spring training.
A couple players who have really stuck out are Nolan Reimold and Josh Bell. Both players came into camp healthy and in great shape after really working hard in the offseason to improve their games. Bell especially caught the teams notice when he showed up to spring training a reported 20 pounds lighter. Buck Showalter has said that Bell still has a chance to start the season in the majors. I could see Bell backing up at third and first base and being the Orioles go to pinch hitting option. However, I have to think it would be in Bell’s best interest to continue to get at bats and more playing time in Triple A while waiting for his chance in the majors.
Bell still has a lot to work on at the plate, but he has already gotten some time at first base and has shown some potential for the future playing first base defensively. Derrek Lee is only signed for one season, and that would seem like a great way to transition Bell into the majors full time….just saying.
Reimold is also battling for a roster spot on the team and could likely be headed to Triple A to get at bats, but he has looked impressive thus far. Yes, I realize it is still very early, but he has already walked four times and hit two home runs in just a few spring training games. Also at the plate, Jake Fox has hit a couple home runs and knocked in four runs. Once again, Fox is battling for a roster spot. It is probably not a coincidence these guys are playing for jobs at the major league level and they are standing out.
In the pitching staff, every one of the Orioles young starters have looked good the first time out. Kevin Gregg and Ryan Drese have also looked rather impressive so far in spring training. Gregg has been getting quick outs, while Koji Uehara has received a cortisone injection in his throwing elbow. Uehara’s situation is not supposed to be serious, but with his injury history it is something to keep an eye on. It is still extremely early, but I would say Gregg has taken an early lead on the closer’s job.
So far so good this spring training for the Orioles. A lot of their players look sharp and motivated for the upcoming season. There has been a rash of minor injuries, but hopefully they will work themselves out before the start of the season.
A quick Alfredo Simon update. Simon posted his bail (reported at around $50,000) and is free to travel to the United States. He is still facing charges, but the situation certainly looks more positive for Simon now than it did a couple months ago. No official word yet on what the Orioles will do with Simon, a CNN article is saying the Orioles official website posted on Thursday that “Simon is unlikely to pitch in 2011 due to off-the-field issues.”