ORIOLES PROFILES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

6 MANNY ALEXANDER

* His role: At the outset of the season, he'll come off the bench to fill in at second and third, and in the occasional blowout, he could get an inning or two at shortstop, his natural position. Also could be used as a pinch runner -- he stole 30 in 38 attempts at Rochester last season. But as the year progresses, he could push Bret Barberie for the everyday job at second base.

* What '95 means to him: A whole lot. New manager Phil Regan is looking at Alexander differently than Johnny Oates did, encouraging him and telling him he has a future in the organization. Despite a poor '94 in the minors, he's being given a second chance. He's got to capitalize. Seems as if he's been with the Orioles forever, reaching the big leagues twice already, and yet he has five major-league at-bats.

* X-factor: He is out of options and cannot be sent to the minor leagues. If he struggles and Regan sours on him, the Orioles would have to seek a trade, rather than just demote him.

* Statistically speaking: He was impatient at Rochester last year, drawing just 16 walks in more than 400 plate appearances, and he struck out 67 times.

* Age: 24. * Height: 5-10. * Weight: 165. * Bats: Right. * Throws: Right.

* His role: Manager Phil Regan may use him in the No. 2 spot in the order to break up the left-handed hitters at the top of the order. He's a good contact hitter, a hitter for average, and could ++ be used to bunt or hit and run, perhaps as early as the first inning. The Orioles want him to be a little more patient and draw a few more walks -- he had 23 in 1994.

* What '95 means to him: Big year for him. He's at the point in his career where he could establish himself as a regular, or, if he has troubles defensively, he could lose his job and become more of a role player.

* X-factor: Manny Alexander, who has the potential to be a better second baseman than Barberie and can steal bases. Alexander could push Barberie for this job.

* Statistically speaking: He was deadly when swinging on the first pitch, batting .423. He's also effective with two strikes; his average with that count (.220) was 25 points higher than the major-league average last year.

* Age: 27. * Height: 5-11. * Weight: 180. * Bats: Both. * Throws: Right.

* His role: He's the only sure thing in the outfield. The Orioles aren't sure about Jeffrey Hammonds' knee, they're not sure who will be the center fielder, but they do know they have Anderson, who could be moved around in the outfield and in the lineup this season. If he hits down in the lineup, which manager Phil Regan is considering, it's because he has extra-base pop -- 42 doubles, triples and homers last year -- and could be a big RBI man. But as he's stated, that's not his preference.

* What '95 means to him: If he's moved out of the leadoff spot, this will be a turning point, where he shifts from being a ping hitter at the top of the order to one who is asked to produce runs. If he doesn't embrace the change and continues to feel better suited to batting at the top of the order, there may come a time soon when the Orioles look to trade him; other clubs inquired about his availability during the off-season.

* X-factor: The play of Andy Van Slyke. If he struggles, Anderson could be moved to center field.

* Statistically speaking: There was no more effective base stealer last year than Anderson, who was thrown out once in 32 attempts.

* Age: 31. * Height: 6-1. * Weight: 195. * Bats: Left. * Throws: Left.

* His role: He's a pivotal hitter in the order, because when he's mashing, opposing pitchers cannot work around Rafael Palmeiro and Cal Ripken.

* What '95 means to him: Now in his mid-30s and no longer used in the field, he will continue to get one-year contracts as long as he hits. Baines should surpass 2,200 hits this year, and with a big push, he could reach 300 career homers (he needs 23).

* X-factor: The emergence of Sherman Obando, who has had a great spring, could reduce Baines' playing time, particularly against left-handers; Baines batted .176 against them last year, .316 against right-handers.

* Statistically speaking: Baines has a lifetime average of .583 (7-for-12) against the Toronto Blue Jays' David Cone. Remember that in September.

* Age: 36. * Height: 6-2. * Weight: 195. * Bats: Left. * Throws: Left.

* His role: Manager Phil Regan would like to use Benitez as his right-handed setup man, but if that's going to work, Benitez will have to throw better than he has this spring. Otherwise, Benitez could be moved into middle relief or be sent to Triple-A Rochester.

* What '95 means to him: If Benitez develops as Regan believes he can, he may ascend to the closer's role by midsummer. Those are lofty expectations for a 22-year-old, but he does have a great arm.

* X-factor: Benitez's ability to pitch through tough times. Regan was somewhat concerned when Benitez lost his poise this spring, but his strong outing against the White Sox on Saturday showed resilience.

* Statistically speaking: In his first season in the minors, 1991, he struck out 33 in 36 1/3 innings. That was the only time he's averaged fewer than one strikeout per inning. Last year, he struck out 120 in 81 2/3 innings.

NTC * Age: 22. * Height: 6-4. * Weight: 180. * Bats: Right. * Throws: Right.

* His role: Could begin the year platooning with Andy Van Slyke, but may have to excel to keep that job. If Van Slyke wins the job outright, Buford could be used as an extra outfielder, pinch hitter and pinch runner.

* What '95 means to him: Buford has said he wants a chance to play everyday in the majors, and it seems he won't get it this year. But he could get his foot in the door with the Orioles by succeeding as a part-timer.

* X-factor: Obviously, Van Slyke. If the former Pirate is healthy and running well and driving in runs, Buford will have a hard time breaking into the lineup.

* Statistically speaking: Buford never has been successful on less than 77 percent of stolen-base attempts in five years in the minors. Last year, he stole 31 in 37 tries.

* Age: 24. * Height: 5-10. * Weight: 170. * Bats: Right. * Throws: Right.

* His role: A late-inning pinch hitter and a fill-in in the outfield if Brady Anderson, Andy Van Slyke or Jeffrey Hammonds needs a day off. As a switch-hitter, he'll present problems for opposing managers trying to decide whether to bring in right-handers or left-handers. Bass also carries a reputation as being very good in the clubhouse and with teammates.

* What '95 means to him: Bass is playing year-to-year now that he's late in his career. If he performs well, the Orioles or another team will bring him back for '96. If not, he could be headed into the TV business.

* X-factor: Sherman Obando will begin the year as the designated hitter when Baines sits, but if he doesn't hit, Bass could step into that role.

* Statistically speaking: Historically, Bass has been a stronger left-handed hitter, but last year, it was the other way around. He batted .420 against left-handers, with a .462 slugging percentage. He hit .268 against right-handers.

* Age: 35. * Height: 6-0. * Weight: 190. * Bats: Both. * Throws: Right.

* His role: Brown won 21 games for Texas three years ago, and yet he's the Orioles' No. 4 starter. It's a great spot for Brown, because he doesn't have to deal with the pressure that comes with being the ace.

* What '95 means to him: For Brown and his accountant, it's a huge year. Coming off a lousy '94 season, Brown opted for a one-year deal to try to rebuild his free agent value. If he rebounds, he's going to be worth millions in the off-season.

* X-factor: The Orioles defense, which should help this ground-ball pitcher immensely. Pitching for Texas last year, Brown allowed 18 unearned runs. The entire Orioles staff gave up 19.

* Statistically speaking: Brown was terrible last year when he fell behind in the count. Opposing batters raked him for a .412 average in that situation. All told, opponents hit Brown for a .314 average and a .455 slugging percentage.

* Age: 30. * Height: 6-4. * Weight: 195. * Bats: Right. * Throws: Right.

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