I wouldn’t say it was a surprise. But when the Orioles’ Opening Day lineup came out Monday morning, Seth Smith’s name was atop it.
Smith, the 34-year-old outfielder acquired by the Orioles this offseason from the Seattle Mariners for Yovani Gallardo, isn’t exactly your typical leadoff guy.
But the left-handed hitter has done it in the past – he’s led off 80 times in his career – and owns a career .344 on-base percentage. And the more typical leadoff types on the Orioles’ roster — Craig Gentry and Joey Rickard — are right-handers and aren’t starting against Toronto Blue Jays’ right-hander Marco Estrada.
Manager Buck Showalter’s other options, based on his lineup Monday, were lefty Hyun Soo Kim and right-handed-hitting Adam Jones. Showalter preferred to bat Jones second and Kim seventh on Monday.
But he admitted his lineup will be a work in progress.
“We’ve got some options. We’ll see where it goes. I think (Smith has) got a chance to do a good job for us there, as some other people do,” Showalter said. “It kind of worked out best for us today, if you look at some of the matchups.”
Then Showalter said what he has said for years now, whether it’s about Jones leading off or Manny Machado or Nick Markakis:
“We’re fortunate to have a team that ego is not driven by batting order,” Showalter said. “They really don’t care. I think there’s a real trust there that we’re gonna do what’s best for the team. Well start out with Seth there and hope it evolves.”
Another power-packed lineup
In looking at the Orioles’ Opening Day starting lineup, what really jumps out is how many guys can hit the longball. Again, this isn’t a surprise.
Jones, Machado. Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop all can make a baseball disappear rather quickly. And guys like Smith, Hardy and Castillo are capable of double-digit-homer seasons, too.
But the addition of Smith and Gentry, as well as the second-year carryovers of Rickard and Kim, could make these Orioles a little less of the swing-and-miss variety. At least that’s the hope.
“Scoring runs has not been our issue; it may not have been comfortable to a lot of people about how we scored them. We’re just trying to get to the end game and play to our strengths. But that’s going to evolve,” Showalter said. “Potentially on paper, what those guys bring could give us a little different dynamic that we are in need of. So, we’ll see how it goes.”
Update on Miley
Lefty Wade Miley, who started the season on the disabled list because flu-like symptoms drained him during the last part of spring training, said he feels fine and expects to be back to start Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees.
He’ll pitch a simulated game at Bowie on Tuesday, and if that goes well, Showalter said Miley will be activated from the DL.
At that point, I’d imagine the Orioles will send one of their extra relievers to the minors to make room for Miley.
Buck on Opening Day
Showalter gets asked every year about his thoughts on Opening Day. It usually has the same theme, but he puts a fresh twist on the same message. And it’s always interesting to hear.
Here’s his take this year:
“You really want the weather to be good, you want the trip in to be good, the park to be somewhere (that) people enjoy it. More important to me, that (fans) bring their kids and there is another generation of baseball fans and Orioles fans and a great memory that I think a lot of us in here share, at least some form of,” Showalter said. “I look at it is a day of responsibility. It’s Act 1 of a long play. I just hope it gets good reviews as the season goes on.”
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