Spring training is the time for experimentation. Relief pitchers are stretched out, and position players are used in different positions.
Jimmy Paredes, who was challenged in the infield last season, may get to try his hand in right field, particularly if the Orioles don’t add another outfielder.
Manager Buck Showalter likes players who are versatile. Ryan Flaherty, who can play the corner outfield spots as well as the four infield spots, is valued.
If Paredes can combine his hot hitting of last spring training with some competent outfield play, he could again force his way on the ballclub or make himself an attractive trade commodity.
Not all position experiments are successful. There was a brief and forgettable try at first base by Nolan Reimold a few years ago.
But four years ago, Showalter saved the season by engineering Manny Machado’s move from shortstop to third base. Machado worked with then minor league infield coordinator Bobby Dickerson at Bowie, and the secret sessions paid off when Showalter decided that Wilson Betemit would no longer do at third base.
Now that Chris Davis has re-signed for seven more years, the Orioles have two minor league first basemen of interest who may be stuck.
One is Christian Walker, who’s played a handful of games in the majors in 2014 and 2015, and the other is Trey Mancini, who led the Eastern League in hitting last season.
Both will start the season in the minors, and if the Los Angeles Angels are unable to find a place for Ji-Man Choi, he could find his way to Norfolk, too.
Choi was signed to a minor league contract in November, but was surprisingly grabbed by the Angels in the Rule 5 draft.
If the Orioles are interested in him, Choi can return to the organization if he doesn’t make the Angels.
Neither Walker nor Mancini has ever played a position other than first base as a professional. Both are right handed hitters.
For the moment, there doesn’t look like there’s a place for them.
Mancini has never played at Triple-A, so he’ll go there. Walker played last season and some of 2014 with the Tides.
When camp opens in two days, Showalter will be asked about using Mancini and Walker in the outfield.
Even if that intrigues him, spring training may not be the time for that. The Orioles know that Mancini and Walker aren’t going to make their team, and if they’re going to experiment with position changes, it’s better to do it in Norfolk than Sarasota.
Besides, there are many other outfielders who need reps.
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