Monday, March 23, 2009

Five Things to Watch: Spring Training Update

Before Spring Training, I listed five things to watch while the O's were in Fort Lauderdale. Let's see what's happening...

1. Koji Uehara...What's Up With That?

Before he pulled a hammy, Uehara didn't look half bad. However, we haven't seen him in two weeks so the jury is out. He's supposed to pitch'll be interesting to see how he fares against lineups with more major league regulars in them.

2. The Rotation...who will emerge?

We know much more now than we did in February but there is so much more unanswered. Radhames Liz, John Parrish, Brad Hennesey, Troy Patton and Brad Bergensen are all out of the running, either injured, sent to the pen or the minors. Rich Hill will start the season on the DL. That leaves Mark Hendrickson, Hayden Penn, Danys Baez, David Pauley, Alfredo Simon, Adam Eaton and Chris Waters to duke it out for the final three spots in the Opening Day rotation.

Unfortunately, nobody has stepped up yet to grab a spot. Dave Trembley keeps putting off the decision but he really has no choice at this point.

3. Luke Scott...Where's He Playing?

This has been a non-story. For all the talk of Scott being willing to try his hand at first base and Trembley wanting him to try out first, Scott has played mostly in left field and not manned first base once. He'll DH and play some left evidently.

4. The Catcher Situation

Andy MacPhail has stated that Matt Wieters would have to hit .800 to make the club out of Spring Training. Wieters is still in big league camp but I don't believe The Warehouse will let him come north to Baltimore. Look for Wieters in Norfolk until at least May.

Gregg Zaun has looked good in camp. Trembley likes how he blocks the plate as opposed to Ramon Hernadez and he seems to be handling the pitching staff well. As far as backups, it's between Chad Moeller and Robby Hammock. Hammock has hit well and shown the versatility to play the outfield but the smart money has to be on Moeller, the better glove, at this point.

5. Who's The Closer?

George Sherrill has been named the closer by Trembley but Chris Ray has looked spectacular. Look for Ray to get some chances this season too.

In other bullpen news, Jamie Walker looks healthy and, when healthy, Jim Johnson looks pretty good too. The pen could once again be a strength but it's hard to tell until we see who makes the rotation.

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