While the Orioles had a successful season, there were some key players missing with injuries. What could next season look like if those players return and contribute?.
Five Orioles who could help in 2013:
1) Nick Markakis
In his previous five seasons, Markakis averaged 160 games per season. This year, he missed 58 due to a hamate bone injury and then a broken thumb courtesy CC Sabathia.
Markakis had a rough off-season last year. He left the final game of the 2011 season with an injury to his abdomen and ended up needing surgery in early January.
His spring debut was delayed, and manager Buck Showalter learned he wasn’t a great sitter.
The Orioles had their worst seven weeks of the season after the hamate bone surgery, and they struggled against the Yankees without Markakis in the lineup.
A full season of Markakis leading off could give the Orioles a lot of extra punch.
2) Brian Roberts
It’s probably foolish to think that Roberts can play a full season in 2013. After three injury-plagued seasons, a 35-year-old Roberts can’t be counted on at all next season.
He hasn’t been able to play regularly since 2009. Since then, he’s had a back injury, two concussions and hip surgery.
While the Orioles are saying the encouraging things about Roberts, he was able to play in only 17 games last season.
His comeback from the effects of his second concussion was inspiring, but he only had 12 hits, all of them singles.
In his prime, Roberts was a unique combination of speed, power and grace at bat and in the field. While he trouped along with the team during the postseason, it was sad that after a decade of playing for losing teams, he never really got to enjoy the good times.
The Orioles will hope for the best from Roberts, but look elsewhere for a second baseman.
3) Nolan Reimold
Reimold didn’t play after April 30. Coincidentally, that was the last game Mariano Rivera pitched in before injuring his right knee.
Reimold had neck surgery in late June and seemed to be doing well when he stopped by the Orioles’ clubhouse for a few days late last month. Unlike Markakis and Roberts, Reimold did not travel with the team in the postseason.
Without Roberts at the start of the season, Showalter used Reimold as the leadoff hitter.
Perhaps the ideal combination in 2013 would be a platoon of Reimold and Nate McLouth in left. McLouth would have to agree to a return and Reimold’s health needs to improve.
Reimold has never played more than 104 games in any season with the Orioles, and his high point was his first season.
At 29, the Orioles hope that 2013 will finally be his breakout season.
4) Wilson Betemit
As detailed on Thursday, Betemit, who missed most of the last two months of the season with a right wrist injury, may not have a logical place on the team.
Betemit is able to play first, third and left field, none of them particularly well. He does have some versatility and an occasional good bat.
His return may give the Orioles an opportunity to trade him, perhaps to a National League team where he could pinch-hit and fill in occasionally.
5) Tsuyoshi Wada
Wada signed a two-year contract last December, but never pitched for the Orioles. He came up with a tender left elbow in February, and in May underwent Tommy John surgery.
He has been rehabbing the elbow in Sarasota, Fla., and hopes to return early next season.
Wada, had four times as many strikeouts as walks in Japan, was 33-15 in his last two seasons there.
He projects as a spot starter or a left-hander out of the bullpen.