That's right. We are three weeks away from the season opener in Tampa Bay on April 6, 2010. The Baltimore Orioles are in the middle of spring training, and there are still a few questions to be answered.
The Orioles have a few questions regarding their pitchers. Kevin Millwood has been hammered the past two outings, and he figures to be the club ace and opening day starter. Is it time to be worried about him?
Answer: No. Millwood has been pitching in the big leagues for over 12 years, so I can't worry about a guy who probably is just going through a normal routine to get ready.
Question: Are Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman going to step up and take the staff to new heights?
Answer: Yes and No. Brian Matusz, 23, is absolutely the real deal. He has the total package. His makeup matches his talent, and his talent includes four above average pitches that he can throw for strikes. Tillman, 21, is still a young pitcher trying to find his way. He is much further along than most pitchers his age usually are. Tillman has a solid curve to go along with his low-mid 90's heater, but his control can sometimes be off. In my opinion, Tillman can be a very quality two or three starter in a year or two.
Question: Is Brad Bergesen going to be ready for the season?
Answer: It appears so. Bergesen suffered a horrific leg injury last July when Billy Butler of Kansas City drove a fastball up the middle and hit him. Then, as he recovered from the leg injury during the offseason, Bergesen hurt his shoulder while filming a MASN commercial. It does appear from his last two starts that Bergesen is pain free and ready to go. Will he have the same sinking fastball and pinpoint control that earned him a 3.43 era last summer? That is the big question. I believe he will. The guy works hard enough and has shown the ability to bounce back before.
Question: Who is the closer?
Answer: The Orioles signed Mike Gonzalez away from the Atlanta Braves to be the full-time closer. Gonzalez is a left-hander known for his funky delivery and dominance over left-handed batters. Gonzalez is a sure upgrade over Jim Johnson, but it remains to be seen if he is an upgrade over George Sherrill. Sherrill, of course, was traded last July to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and while he provided heart attacks before getting the last out of the game, he was usually successful at picking up the save. I can see Gonzalez struggling early as he gets adjusted to the American League, but I think he will find his way and save 20 or more games.
Later today I'll give some questions about the position players and try to answer them.