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Orioles Spring Training Rundown
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01/30/2003 9:03 pm ET 
Orioles Spring Training Rundown
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com

Jerry Hairston had a strong second half of 2002 and finished at .268 with 21 stolen bases. (Gail Burton/AP)

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Gear

2002 record
67-95, fourth in AL East

2002 Hitting leaders
(min. 200 at-bats)
Avg: Gary Matthews Jr., .276
OBP: Matthews, .355
SLG: Jay Gibbons, .482
Runs: Tony Batista, 90
RBIs: Batista, 87
Hits: Batista, 150
2B: Batista, 36
3B: Chris Singleton, 6
HR: Batista, 31

complete coverage: spring training 2003
SB: Jerry Hairston, 21

2002 Pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Rodrigo Lopez, 192 2/3
W: Lopez, 15
L: Jason Johnson, 14
Win %: Lopez, 15-9, .625
S: Jorge Julio, 25
ERA: Buddy Groom, 1.60
K: Lopez, 136
K/9: Julio, 7.23
WHIP: Groom, 0.90

ORIOLES POLL

Projected starting lineup
2B Jerry Hairston
CF Gary Matthews Jr.
DH David Segui
3B Tony Batista
RF Jay Gibbons
1B Jeff Conine
LF Marty Cordova
C Geronimo Gil
SS Deivi Cruz

Projected rotation
1. Rodrigo Lopez
2. Omar Daal
3. Sidney Ponson
4. Pat Hentgen
5. Scott Erickson

Bullpen
LH setup man: Buddy Groom
RH setup man: Kerry Ligtenberg
Closer: Jorge Julio

Spring Cleaning: Five questions that need to be answered

1. Can the Orioles improve their offense despite the lack of a big bat?
Not that they didn't try, but the Orioles will enter Spring Training without the slugger they pursued in the offseason. The Orioles were the 13th-ranked offense in the American League last year and have not made any considerable improvement, so they are banking on healing players to produce and others to bounce back from disappointing seasons.

2. Will Jerry Hairston become a solid leadoff hitter?

Hairston had a strong second half of 2002, cementing the second base job and reviving the organization's confidence that he could be an offensive sparkplug. His responsibility this season will be hitting leadoff, something he has faltered at the past two seasons. Does he have enough plate discipline to draw walks and increase his on-base percentage? The Orioles need him to produce.

3. Can Sidney Ponson finally fulfill his potential?

The front-office duo of Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan sent Ponson a message by not offering the right-hander a deal past free agency and are content to let him walk if he does not have a solid season. Ponson always has shown flashes of being a dominant pitcher but has yet to maintain that level consistently.

4. Who will be left standing in the crowded outfield?

If the Orioles are to add a power hitter, he likely would be in the outfield, which already is crowded. With players such as Chris Richard having no place to play, the club will have to make important roster decisions before it breaks camp. Beattie has said he would be open to trading an outfielder.

5. Is David Segui finally healthy and ready for full-time duty?

The gifted hitter and first baseman has battled injury problems his entire career, but appears finally ready to contribute after missing most of the past two seasons. The Orioles could use a dependable designated hitter and Segui can hit for average and power when in top form.

New faces: Players acquired via trade or free agency

LHP Omar Daal -- The former Dodger will be the No. 2 starter and the team's first full-time left-handed starter since Jimmy Key in 1998. He will be depended on to log innings and complement ace Rodrigo Lopez. Daal won 24 games the past two seasons.

RHP Kerry Ligtenberg -- The Orioles got quite a bargain with this former Atlanta Brave, who has a 3.04 ERA in five seasons. He will be the right-handed setup man and occasionally spell Jorge Julio as closer. He collected 30 saves for the Braves in 1998.

SS Deivi Cruz -- Cruz will be expected to provide solid defense up the middle and the occasional pop in the bottom of the order. He will be a stopgap player until the Orioles find a long-term shortstop.

Long gone

Mike Bordick -- The popular player wanted $2.75 million from the Orioles, but he took $1 million to be a backup in Toronto. He will enter the season with a 110-game consecutive errorless streak.

Chris Singleton -- The Orioles did not offer Singleton a contract, partly to clear the crowded outfield. The Bay Area native signed a one-year deal with the Oakland A's to be their center fielder.

Calvin Maduro -- After faltering as the fifth starter, Maduro sat out the final four months of the season with an elbow injury. He was not offered a contract and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Returning from injury

DH David Segui -- The first baseman/DH played in just 26 games before being sidelined with tendon damage in his left wrist. He should be healthy for Opening Day and was taking batting practice toward season's end.

RHP Scott Erickson -- After pitching last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, it was revealed that Erickson had a torn labrum in his right elbow. He should be healthy by Opening Day.

CF Gary Matthews Jr. -- The center fielder missed most of the final month of the season with a sprained right wrist. He said the wrist has been healed since October and he is 100 percent entering his second season with the Orioles.

RF Chris Richard -- Richard had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in November 2001 and returned to the lineup in August. He was unable to throw the ball from the outfield, so it is not certain whether he will be in the mix in Spring Training.

New kids on the block: Prospects to watch

OF Larry Bigbie -- Perhaps the best prospect in the organization, Bigbie will make a bid to be backup outfielder. It's unlikely he will make the team, especially with the logjam in outfield. But space will need to be cleared for him soon.

SS Eddie Rogers -- Considered the Orioles' shortstop of the future, Rogers will probably start the season in Triple-A Ottawa. He was called up last September but primarily worked with infield coach Sam Perlozzo.

RHP Sean Douglass -- Manager Mike Hargrove believes Douglass has the potential to be a frontline starter and this could be his year to crack the rotation.

2B Brian Roberts -- The second baseman is coming off a strong Winter League season and this may be his last chance to claim a roster spot.

On the rebound

Brook Fordyce -- The backup catcher struggled for the second consecutive season and has his eyes set on challenging Geronimo Gil for the starting spot. Fordyce had a tough time adjusting to a backup role and hit .231 with just eight RBIs in 2002.

Melvin Mora -- Mora got off to a blazing start as the team's leadoff hitter and reached a career high in homers by the All-Star break. But he hit just .195 in the second half and began swinging for the fences instead of making solid contact.

David Segui -- Segui returns from a wrist injury and should be in the starting lineup if completely healthy. He has yet to produce as expected in Baltimore and needs a strong season.

Scott Erickson -- Erickson lost 12 games with a 5.55 ERA last season before being shut down because of ineffectiveness. Now he is coming off a torn labrum and will be competing just to stay in the rotation.

Jason Johnson -- Coming off a strange, injury-filled year, Johnson needs to prove that he can be a consistent starter. But with 26 losses the past two years, he is losing the confidence of the organization.

The bottom line

The Orioles need to figure out their outfield and starting rotation. Because the team was unable to acquire its desired power hitter, players such as Conine, Segui and Matthews have to display power potential and one has to emerge as a productive cleanup hitter. The acquisition of Daal shored up the rotation but what can the club expect from Ponson and Hentgen?

Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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