A day after kicking off their Grapefruit League schedule on the road against the Atlanta Braves with a lineup that contained only one projected Opening Day starter (Hyun Soo Kim), the Birds’ order for their home opener looks a lot like what you might expect it to look like come April 4.
Had Fowler signed with Baltimore, it would've allowed Machado, whose 35 homers last year were more than he hit in his first three seasons combined, to slide down in the lineup. Instead, the 23-year-old third baseman is a logical choice to man the top of the order, where last season he impressed, slashing .300/.364/.512 in 111 starts leading off.
"You could make a case for him being the best leadoff hitter in baseball last year," said Buck Showalter before Wednesday’s game, Baltimore’s second in two days against the Braves. The O’s manager was quick to point out, though, that Machado’s offensive skill set would render him an option at a variety of different spots in the order.
"Manny could hit anywhere in the first five places. It just depends on how it compliments the rest of our guys. It’s hard to find a guy like that."
On Wednesday, he’ll hit first, although Showalter was quick to point out that sometimes in spring training, batting order has less to do with strategy, and more to do with simply letting guys get their reps in before calling it a day.
"Early on, you know guys are going to come out after three at-bats and usually five or six innings, so you try to push them up as much as you can."
As for Trumbo, it’s been an offseason of position identity crisis. Back in December when the Orioles first acquired him from Seattle and the prospect of Chris Davis returning seemed like a long shot, it looked like he might play first base, his best defensive position. In January, when Davis signed, it seemed like Trumbo might be pushed to right field, where in 2015 with the Mariners, he played the majority of his games. Last month, when it appeared Fowler was headed to Baltimore, Trumbo looked like a lock for DH duty. But with Fowler pulling a 180 and signing with Chicago, suddenly Trumbo is back in the outfield conversation, as he and Nolan Reimold are two of the primary in-house candidates to man right field this season.
On Wednesday, with Reimold nursing a sore shoulder and starting at DH, it’s Trumbo who gets the nod in right. While Showalter is anxious to see what the 6-foot-4 slugger can do out there, he also knows that because of the high skies and prevailing winds that come with spring training in Florida, early outfield indicators can often be misleading.
"It’s the big fooler," said Showalter. "You can really get fooled by an outfielder’s defensive abilities on the negative side. You don’t see many good breaks on balls."