There’s always something exciting for me in seeing the first Orioles lineup of the year, even on a year like this where there is almost no chance that the O’s will be any good. It means baseball is back, and it means something to talk about.
New manager Brandon Hyde had a lot of moving players around through spring training as he was trying to sort out who would be on his roster. With everything all set now, here’s how he’s lined up the O’s for his first regular season game at the helm:
- Cedric Mullins - CF
- Dwight Smith Jr. - LF
- Jonathan Villar - 2B
- Trey Mancini - DH
- Rio Ruiz - 3B
- Joey Rickard - RF
- Chris Davis - 1B
- Jesus Sucre - C
- Richie Martin - SS
Andrew Cashner is making the start due to Alex Cobb’s right groin soreness. Cashner last pitched on Sunday, with the O’s lifting him after two innings so he could come back on short rest for the start of this season.
After a spring training where Chris Davis was generally batting high in the order, I was nervous that might happen in the regular season as well. At least to start the season, that’s not the case. He is down in seventh. It is yet another reminder that there are different people in charge now.
The other thing that stands out to me is that the O’s have managed to end up with three real outfielders in the lineup after all. Mancini is free from his torment at the moment, slotted in at designated hitter. Whether this makes any difference at all as the homer-prone Cashner faces the homer-happy Yankees lineup is another story, but it’s still nice to see the team making the attempt to have a real defense out there.
As for the rest of the lineup, what is there to say? There are a number of reasons why the best projected record anyone has come up with for the Orioles was 62-100 and you can see them in that lineup. There are a number of guys who are unproven, and more who have proven lately that they can’t hit. For none of them can you say, “Yes, he’s definitely going to hit well this year.”
Maybe the new front office and coaching staff will be able to get more out of players like Mancini and Rickard. Maybe Mike Elias and company found some diamonds in the rough with the likes of Ruiz, Smith, and Sucre. Or maybe... well, it’s Opening Day. We don’t need to get into the bad scenarios.