- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2011: 69-93, 5th place.

Manager: Buck Showalter (2nd full season).

He’s Here: LH Wei-Yin Chen, LH Dana Eveland, RH Jason Hammel, RH Matt Lindstrom, LH Tsuyoshi Wada, C Taylor Teagarden, 2B Matt Antonelli, OF Endy Chavez, CF Jai Miller, INF Wilson Betemit, INF Ryan Flaherty.

He’s Outta There: DH Vladimir Guerrero, LF Luke Scott, C Jake Fox, OF Felix Pie, RH Chris Jakubauskas, RH Jeremy Guthrie, LH Jo-Jo Reyes, RH Rick VandenHurk.

Projected Lineup: LF Nolan Reimold (.247, 13, 45 in 87 games), SS J.J. Hardy (.269, career-high 30, 80 in 129 games), RF Nick Markakis (.284, 15, 73), CF Adam Jones (.280, career-high 25, 83), C Matt Wieters (.262, 22, 68), 3B Mark Reynolds (.221, 37, 86, 196 Ks), 1B Chris Davis (.276, 2, 13 in 31 games with Baltimore after trade with Texas), DH Wilson Betemit (.285, 8, 46 in 97 games with KC and Detroit), 2B Robert Andino (.263, 5, 36 and team-high 13 SB).

Rotation: RH Jake Arrieta (10-8, 5.05 before season-ending elbow surgery in August), LH Wei-Yin Chen (combined 36-30, 2.48 over four seasons in Japan), RH Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.68), RH Jason Hammel (7-13, 4.76 with Colorado), LH Brian Matusz (1-9, 10.69).

Key Relievers: RH Jim Johnson (6-5, 2.67, 9/14), RH Kevin Gregg (0-3, 4.37, 22/29), RH Matt Lindstrom (2-2, 3.00, 2 with Colorado), LH Tsuyoshi Wada (16-5, 1.51 in Japan in 2011), LH Dana Eveland (3-2, 3.03 in five starts with Los Angeles Dodgers).

Hot Spots: Leadoff hitter and two-time All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts is still working his way back from a concussion that kept him sidelined for most of the 2011 season. That means the Orioles will again have to count on Andino to start, even though he’s best suited to be a utility player. Andino led the team in steals with 13 - an indictment of the team’s overall lack of speed. Roberts’ absence also increases the pressure on Reimold, previously a part-time player who has been handed the starting job in left field along with the leadoff role.

Outlook: Between Hardy, Jones, Reynolds and Wieters, the Orioles have enough power to compete with the big boys in the AL East. The problem is the pitching, again a huge question mark. If newcomers Chen, Wada and Hammel hold their own in a new league, and if Arrieta and Matusz bounce back from injury-troubled seasons, Baltimore’s starting rotation will survive the loss of workhorse Jeremy Guthrie. But the back end of the bullpen remains suspect, given that Gregg struggled in 2011 and Johnson has not yet proven he has the mindset needed to close out a tight game. New executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Orioles won’t be a contender in 2012 as the celebrate the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards, but if they can avoid injuries and get some decent pitching they could snap an embarrassing streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons.

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