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2009 Bowie Baysox season preview

The Double-A Bowie Baysox tied a franchise record with 84 wins last season, but it's going to be difficult for the team to duplicate that success in 2009.

After winning the Southern Division in the Eastern League during the regular season in 2008, the Baysox lost to the Akron Aeros in the first round of the playoffs.

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This year, the Baysox will look to avenge the early exit from the postseason. A lot of the primary players who are attempting to fulfill that goal, however, will be different.

"You just [have] to go out there and repeat, and try to do the best job that you can," Baysox manager Brad Komminsk said during the team's media day Tuesday at Prince George's Stadium.

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Three of the top four starting pitchers on last year's team -- Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez and Chris Tillman -- earned promotions to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides in 2009.

Overall, the three pitchers were 36-14 with a 3.03 ERA in 79 games during the 2008 season. The trio combined for 392 strikeouts and 163 walks in 424 2/3 innings.

Jason Berken, who was 12-4 with a 3.58 ERA in 26 games (25 starts) for the Baysox in 2008, returns to the team in 2009. The 6-foot, 210-pound right-hander will start tonight's season opener on the road against the Aeros at 7:05 p.m.Komminsk announced the team's starting rotation to start the season will be Berken, Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton, Brandon Erbe and Bobby Livingston.

"I'm sure the young pitching will be good again," Komminsk said. "Arrieta and Erbe are both power arms who should fit right into the mix."

The offensive core of the 2008 Baysox -- outfielders Lou Montanez and Nolan Reimold, third baseman Jeff Nettles and catcher Matt Wieters -- has also moved on. Montanez, Reimold and Wieters will start at Norfolk, while Nettles was released by the Orioles during spring training.

The four hitters combined for 87 home runs and 310 RBIs last season. Montanez, Reimold and Nettles all ranked in the top five in home runs in the Eastern League in 2008.

Despite the loss of several impact hitters, Komminsk doesn't seem too concerned.

"We should be OK," he said. "[Brandon] Snyder had a really good spring, and [Jeff] Fiorentino swung the bat really well."

Komminsk also mentioned veteran outfielders Ambiorix Concepcion and Dave Krynzel, as well as infielder Melvin Dorta, as potential leaders because of their experience.

While Snyder is going to be the starting first baseman for the Baysox, Komminsk isn't sure how he will handle the rest of the infield.

Komminsk said it's unlikely that Snyder would see much time at third base due to the lack of another first baseman on the roster.

"No, I mean, he could play a game or two over there, but he's going to be our primary first baseman," Komminsk said.

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When asked who would play third base, Komminsk said: "It's going to be a mix. [Jonathan] Tucker will get some time, Dorta should also play some there."

Komminsk said he is unsure if Miguel Abreu or Paco Figueroa will receive the majority of playing time at second base. He expects Abreu to also play third base, designated hitter and possibly some in the outfield.

Abreu batted .275 with six home runs and 43 RBIs in 116 games for the Single-A Frederick Keys in 2008. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound infielder had 21 stolen bases and 55 runs scored.

Injuries bothered Figueroa during much of the 2008 season, but he split time between the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds and Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. In 32 games between the two levels, Figueroa batted .302 with 10 RBIs and 18 runs scored.

Robert Valido, who the Orioles selected from the Chicago White Sox in the minor league portion of the 2008 Rule 5 draft, is expected to play shortstop for the Baysox. He hit .211 with three home runs, 29 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 119 games while splitting time between the Double-A Birmingham Barons and Triple-A Charlotte Knights last season.

Other notes from the Baysox's media day:

• Komminsk discussed left-hander Wilfrido Perez's role this season, and mentioned the Orioles' desire to have him pitch on back-to-back days.

"He's going to close some for us, match up some, but I think the Orioles want him to go back-to-back a few times each month ... he's got good stuff, so that will be a plus," Komminsk said.

• Without former Orioles reliever Julio Manon, who led the Eastern League with 32 saves for the Baysox in 2008, Komminsk said he'll likely use a closer-by-committee approach at the beginning of the season. Along with Perez, the Baysox manager said 6-foot-4 right-hander Josh Perrault could receive some save opportunities. The Orioles grabbed Perrault from the Washington Nationals in the 2008 Rule 5 draft.

• Patton, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum, said he hasn't experienced any setbacks during his recovery. I'll have more from Patton in the next few days, so be sure to check O's on Deck for the interview.

• Although he's not quite sure who will emerge as a clubhouse leader for the Baysox at this point, Komminsk believes the veteran players should pave the way for others.

"We've got a lot of veteran guys, so I'm sure they'll step up when it counts," he said.

• In the Eastern League playoffs last season, while he was on an injury rehab assignment, Cleveland Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner played a key role in eliminating the Baysox. Hafner had two home runs and seven RBIs in the final two games of the series.

Despite complaints from Baysox fans on various message boards, Komminsk denied any talk of a rivalry between the two clubs, who will meet 11 times during the first month of the season.

"That's all you guys," he said. "Probably the media and fans more than anything."

• The Baysox released the roster for the 2009 season. It's listed below.

2009 Bowie Baysox Preseason Roster

Pitchers

No. // Name // Bats // Throws // Height // Weight // Date of Birth

34 // Jake Arrieta // Right // Right // 6-4 // 225 // 05/06/1986

10 // Jason Berken // Right // Right // 6-0 // 210 // 11/27/1983

40 // Fredy Deza // Right // Right // 6-2 // 174 // 12/11/1982

23 // Brandon Erbe // Right // Right // 6-4 // 191 // 12/25/1987

12 // Jim Hoey // Right // Right // 6-6 // 210 // 12/30/1982

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31 // Ryan Keefer // Right // Right // 6-3 // 225 // 08/10/1981

14 // Bobby Livingston // Right // Right // 6-3 // 190 // 09/03/1982

20 // Troy Patton // Switch // Left // 6-1 // 185 // 09/03/1985

44 // Wilfrido Perez // Left // Left // 6-0 // 145 // 08/12/1984

38 // Josh Perrault // Right // Right // 6-4 // 215 // 06/11/1982

39 // Ryan Rodriguez // Right // Right // 6-4 // 233 // 07/10/1984

41 // Chad Thall // Right // Right // 6-4 // 220 // 08/02/1985

Catchers

No. // Name // Bats // Throws // Height // Weight // Date of Birth

16 // Adam Donachie // Right // Right // 6-1 // 215 // 03/03/1984

7 // Guillermo Rodriguez // Right // Right // 5-11 // 220 // 05/15/1978

Infielders

No. // Name // Bats // Throws // Height // Weight // Date of Birth

15 // Miguel Abreu // Right // Right // 5-11 // 192 // 11/14/1984

3 // Melvin Dorta // Right // Right // 5-11 // 160 // 01/15/1982

4 // Paco Figueroa // Right // Right // 5-11 // 180 // 02/19/1983

29 // Brandon Snyder // Right // Right // 6-2 // 215 // 11/23/1986

6 // Jonathan Tucker // Right // Right // 5-8 // 180 // 07/02/1982

2 // Robert Valido // Right // Right // 6-2 // 195 // 05/16/1985

Outfielders

No. // Name // Bats // Throws // Height // Weight // Date of Birth

27 // Ambiorix Concepcion // Right // Right // 6-2 // 220 // 03/19/1982

5 // Daniel Figueroa // Right // Right // 5-11 // 184 // 02/19/1983

25 // Jeff Fiorentino // Left // Right // 6-2 // 195 // 04/14/1983

13 // Dave Krynzel // Right // Right // 6-1 // 184 // 11/07/1981

Note: RHP Gerardo Casadiego is on the disabled list to start the season.

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