Hello again, and thanks for checking in. I return to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow morning, and I promise to pick up the blog pace. I hated to leave the team, but it couldn't be helped. OK, I really hated to leave the warm weather. I've had enough of this cold. I can't seem to heat up the lower level of my townhouse, no matter how high I crank up the thermostat. As we speak, a movie crew is filming March of the Penguins II in my downstairs bathroom.

My new friend, David S. writes: "Roch, great job, as always. I look forward to these throughout the day and you should let the Sun know that I would PAY for this type of service. OK, on to the questions...
How likely is it that Adam Loewen could be up for a reliever position with (Todd) Williams' arm issue? Is (LaTroy) Hawkins as snarky as his reputation or has he been pretty approachable by teamates and media? Any chance that (Jeff) Conine or (Kevin) Millar could be on the outside looking in with all of the outfielders and first basemen in camp?"


OK, where do I begin? First of all, I like your idea of paying for this service. Just make the checks out to me, and I'll pass them along to The Sun.That's R-O-C-H K-U-B-A-T-K-O. The standard spelling.

Though I like the idea of a young starter learning the ropes in a major league bullpen, which used to be the Orioles' method many years ago, I doubt they'd do it with Loewen. He needs to work on his command and build on the progress he made last season. And Williams' shoulder problem, if it carries into the regular season, would necessitate another right-hander for the bullpen, which further eliminates Loewen. Maybe Hayden Penn, though I'd also like to see him get more starts.


As for Hawkins, I'm not sure what "snarky" means, but I can guess. It also makes me giggle a little, and I'm not sure why. He's blending in just fine, and I don't believe he's had problems with teammates in the past. There have been some issues with the media, but I'm told the guys in San Francisco loved him. And he's been fine so far this spring. He does make a habit of checking everyone's credential so he can match a face with a name and know who he's dealing with, but I assume that's not so he can hunt us down later and kill us.

And finally, I'll assume Conine and MIllar are safe, even with the surplus of corner outfielders/first baseman/designated hitters in camp. But the team could go in so many different directions now that Hidalgo has signed. Javy Lopez might have to change his opinion of being the DH, because it's pretty obvious that the Orioles would be much more comfortable with Conine at first. Millar isn't much of a defensive player, but even he's an upgrade over Lopez, simply because of his experience. Which again makes it possible that Lopez is traded, if the Orioles could only find the right match.

I'm saying this with the assumption that Hidalgo makes the team and isn't a .212 hitter - though he'd go nicely with the .215 center fielder.

So who's gone first, Lopez or Luis Matos? Maybe this is a trick question. Maybe they go at the same time. Feel free to play general manager.

If they stand pat, the Orioles sure have upgraded their bench.

In case you missed it, SI.com lists it's Top 10 middle infield duos. See if you agree.

1.   Miguel Tejada-Brian Roberts, Baltimore Orioles

2.   Rafael Furcal-Jeff Kent, Los Angeles Dodgers

3.   Jimmy Rollins-Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

4.   Derek Jeter-Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

5.   Johnny Peralta-Ronnie Belliard, Cleveland Indians

6.   Julio Lugo-Jorge Cantu, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

7.   Edgar Renteria-Marcus Giles, Atlanta Braves

8.   Carlos Guillen-Placido Polanco, Detroit Tigers

9.   Juan Uribe-Tadahito Iguchi, Chicago White Sox

10. Bobby Crosby-Mark Ellis, Oakland Athletics

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