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2009 Baltimore Orioles Opening Day Lineup Facts

Melvin Mora & Brian Roberts are heading for the Orioles HOF

Melvin Mora & Brian Roberts are heading for the Orioles HOF

 

Like probably everybody bothering to even read this, I’m very excited about another Opening Day.  From getting permission to skip school to watch on television as a kid, to being fortunate to attend three season inaugurals later, to the age of sneaking peaks at mlb.com at work in recent years — I totally buy into all that optimism of spring, renewal of life gobbledy gook.  Mostly, I just love Orioles baseball.

Anyway, here’s a look at the Baltimore Orioles projected lineup today:

2b – BRIAN ROBERTS – Making his sixth straight Opening Day start at second base, which ties him for second place in club history (with Davey Johnson) behind Rich Dauer, who had eight.  Few remember that Dauer -who slugged .343 in a 10-year-career- also started the 1978 opener at DH.  As for B-Rob, he’s a .294 career hitter (5-17) in Opening Day starts, with six walks, a run scored, an error and just a single steal in three attempts.

cf – ADAM JONES – Back for his second straight start in centerfield, “Jonesy” becomes the ninth Oriole to start more than one opener at the position, though he has a long way to catch Paul Blair’s club record 12.  Jones went 0-3 in his Orioles debut last year.

rf – NICK MARKAKIS – He’ll become only the fifth Oriole to start at least three openers in right-field.  Frank Robinson, Ken Singleton, Dan Ford & Jay Gibbons were the others.  So far, Nick the Stick is just a .167 (1-6) hitter in Opening Day starts, but with a couple walks, two runs scored and a stolen base to go with it.  Considering the six-year deal Markakis inked over the winter, eventually surpassing Singleton’s club record six Opening Day starts in right seems like a good bet.

3b- MELVIN MORA – Not only is this Mora’s sixth straight Opening Day start at third base (tying him with Cal Ripken for second place behind Brooks Robinson’s 20), it’s also his ninth season inaugural start overall.  “Melmo” also started in left and centerfield.  Since coming to the Orioles in a mid-2000 trade, Mora’s started every opener except 2003.  Hitless the last two years, he’s at .192 (5-26) in starts the first game of the season, with five RBI, four runs scored, a couple walks and a pair of errors.  Mora’s also stolen two bases, stroked two doubles, been hit by a Pedro Martinez pitch and gone deep against Scott Kazmir.

1b – AUBREY HUFF – Makes his third consecutive Opening Day start, returning to first base after serving as the Designated Hitter last year.  The 2008 Most Valuable Oriole is a .375 (3-8) hitter on Orioles Opening Days, with a run scored and a RBI double against Johan Santana.  Huff isn’t likely to ever approach the club record for openers started at first base.  Eddie Murray leads with 10 (plus one apiece at DH & 3B), and Boog Powell is right behind with nine (plus three more in LF)

dh – TY WIGGINTON – Welcome to Baltimore, Ty.  You’re the 26th different Opening Day DH in Orioles history.  Nobodys done it more than Harold Baines (four times). 

lf – LUKE SCOTT – Back in left again after making his Orioles debut there last year when he went 1-3.  This marks the first time the O’s have started the same three outfielders in consecutive openers since 1999-2000, when B.J. Surhoff-Brady Anderson- Albert Belle did it.  The only other trios to man the outfield for consecutive openers are:  Gary-Roenicke-Al Bumbry-Ken Singleton (1979-1981), Don Buford-Paul Blair-Frank Robinson (1969-1970) & Curt Blefary-Paul Blair-Frank Robinson (1966-1967).

c – GREGG ZAUN – The 20th different Opening Day catcher in Orioles history is the nephew of the club record holder in that department.  Uncle Rick Dempsey started 10.

ss – CESAR IZTURIS – Becomes the second Venezuelan shortstop in a row to start at short for the Orioles (Luis Hernandez in 2008), and the third overall (HOF Luis Aparicio from 1963-1967).  Izturis will be the 14th Oriole to start a season opener there, but club leaders Cal Ripken (14) & Mark Belanger (13) appear safe.

p – JEREMY GUTHRIE – Last year, Guthrie became the 32nd different Orioles pitcher to start Opening Day.  This year, he becomes the 11th man to do it at least twice.  Go get ’em, Guts!!!

by MALCOLM ALLEN

malallen@live.com

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