Lopez's .316 average and 23 home runs weren't bad, but it's safe to assume the team expected more. Lopez said perhaps having spent a year in the American League will help increase his offensive production.
_____ Baseball '05 _____
• It will be tough for the Orioles- Nationals matchup to join the ranks of great baseball rivalries. • A closer look at the Nationals' rivals in the NL East. • Thomas Boswell: The old rivalry between Washington and Baltimore should not take long to heat up. • The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is the best in sports and only figures to get more intense this season. • A timeline of the Red Sox and Yankees' shared history. • Many teams have laid claim to being the top rival of the Yankees. • Started in New York City and continued in California, the Giants- Dodgers rivalry is one for the ages. • Baseball Preview Section
He is considered an adequate defensive player, but not stellar. It's fair to say Lopez is regarded as an offensive catcher.
Geronimo Gil, once the team's starter, will back up Lopez. Gil is an average offensive and defensive player, and doesn't really excel at one or the other.
Jay Gibbons, 1B
Gibbons has not played first base regularly since 2000, when he was a minor leaguer with the Toronto Blue Jays. The team hoped Gibbons would familiarize himself with the position this spring, but a bout with pneumonia foiled those plans. Gibbons has not impressed with his play at first during the spring.
Last season Gibbons fought through a bad hip and vision problems and had his least productive season as an Oriole.
Rafael Palmeiro will back up Gibbons and may end up playing more first base than the team had hoped. B.J. Surhoff is also capable of backing up Gibbons.
Brian Roberts, 2B
For the first time in his Orioles career Brian Roberts is the undisputed second baseman. Roberts won the competition last season when Jerry Hairston missed extended time with a fracture in his right ring finger. Roberts responded by producing one of the finest seasons for an Orioles second baseman, breaking the club mark for doubles in a season with 50, which also led the American League.
Roberts earned the job outright when Hairston was traded to the Chicago Cubs in the Sammy Sosa deal.
Chris Gomez and Enrique Wilson can back up Roberts and the versatile David Newhan can fill in when necessary.
Miguel Tejada, SS
Tejada was a most valuable player candidate on a third-place team. The shortstop led the majors with 150 RBI and added 34 home runs while batting .311. Tejada also surprised with his excellent defense. It's unlikely Tejada can repeat his 2004 season, though a large dropoff shouldn't be expected.