The 2003 Orioles

THE BALTIMORE SUN

3B Tony Batista

Height: 6-0. Weight: 208. Age: 29.

Projected role: Starting third baseman.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Claimed off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on June 25, 2001.

By the numbers: Led the Orioles in doubles (36), home runs (31) and RBIs (87) and was the club's lone All-Star. Hit 30 of his homers as a third baseman, breaking Brooks Robinson's single-season club record. Has reached the 30-homer level in three of the past four seasons. Went 3-for-42 in his last 11 games and hit .220 in his last 37. Had three sudden-death, game-winning hits.

X-factor: On a team hurting for power, the Orioles need Batista to aim for the fences. But that leaves them with a one-dimensional player who doesn't help in other areas.

RHP Rick Bauer

Height: 6-6. Weight: 208. Age: 26.

Projected role: Multipurpose reliever, with heavy emphasis on the later innings.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Drafted in the fifth round in 1997.

By the numbers: Spent all but nine days with the Orioles last season. Stayed for good after April 16 call-up. Earned first major league win. Led Orioles and tied for 10th in AL with 77 2/3 relief innings. Made 55 relief appearances and one start. Led club's relievers with six wins. Had 3.05 ERA after All-Star break.

X-factor: The Orioles can use Bauer in a variety of roles, but manager Mike Hargrove seems to prefer holding him for the late innings. His future still could be as a starter, however. Maybe next year.

1B/OF Jeff Conine

Height: 6-1. Weight: 219. Age: 36.

Projected role: Starting first baseman and extra outfielder.

Contract: Signed through 2004.

How he got here: Acquired from the Kansas City Royals for P Chris Fussell on April 2, 1999.

By the numbers: Played in 64 of first 65 games before a hamstring injury sidelined him June 16 and cost him 45 games. Hit .319 with six homers and 18 RBIs in the 19 games before the injury. Batted .300 in his last 47 games of the season. Signed a two-year contract extension with an option for 2005 on March 22, 2002.

X-factor: The Orioles already planned to give him most of the starts at first base before David Segui fractured his thumb. He's not a prototypical cleanup hitter, but that's where the Orioles will bat him.

OF Marty Cordova

Height: 6-0. Weight: 213. Age: 33.

Projected role: Part of left-field platoon with B.J. Surhoff.

Contract: Signed through 2004.

How he got here: Signed as a free agent Dec. 4, 2001.

By the numbers: Was batting .367 on May 5 but struggled late in the season like the rest of the team, hitting .188 in September. Is a career .275 hitter who has averaged 19 home runs during his past two seasons. Missed 31 games last season, mostly because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but still tied for third on the team with 64 RBIs.

X-factor: With Surhoff expected to get most of the playing time in left field, Cordova can serve as the designated hitter more often, especially with David Segui on the disabled list. This should help Cordova stay healthy.

SS Deivi Cruz

Height: 6-0. Weight: 207. Age: 30.

Projected role: Starting shortstop.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Signed as a free agent to a one-year deal with an option for 2004 on Dec. 15, 2002. By the numbers: His 151 games ranked second on the San Diego Padres last season. So did his 28 doubles. Committed 15 errors in 147 games (133 starts) at shortstop. With 47 RBIs, drove in more runs than any Padres shortstop since Chris Gomez in 1997. Batted .327 during career-high 15-game hitting streak. Was 6-for-12 with bases loaded. Drove in 82 runs with the Detroit Tigers in 2000.

X-factor: He doesn't have to be Mike Bordick, but the Orioles expect him to make the routine plays and provide more offense. Cruz has good hands, but his range is lacking.

LHP Omar Daal

Height: 6-3. Weight: 193. Age: 31.

Projected role: No. 2 starter.

Contract: Signed through 2004.

How he got here: Signed a two-year contract as a free agent Jan. 4, 2003.

By the numbers: Finished fifth on the Los Angeles Dodgers with 23 starts after beginning the season in the bullpen. Was 9-8 with a 4.45 ERA as a starter and 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 16 relief appearances. Walked two batters or fewer in 16 starts. Went 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in August but 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA in September. Led Dodgers pitchers in double plays induced (18).

X-factor: He figures to be the first left-hander to be a regular presence in the Orioles' rotation since Jimmy Key in 1998. He signed with the Orioles so he could be a starter.

C Brook Fordyce

Height: 6-0. Weight: 194. Age: 32.

Projected role: Reserve catcher.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Acquired from the Chicago White Sox with P Miguel Felix, P Juan Figueroa and P Jason Lakman for C Charles Johnson and DH Harold Baines on July 29, 2000.

By the numbers: Threw out just six of 46 runners (13 percent) trying to steal second base against him. Began the season in a 1-for-31 slump but rebounded to bat .293 after May 3. Hit just one homer. Made consecutive starts four times.

X-factor: He should get more playing time this season, spelling starting catcher Geronimo Gil. He's making $3.25 million this year and the Orioles have an option for next year, but he'll likely be a free agent at season's end.

OF Jay Gibbons

Height: 6-0. Weight: 193. Age: 26.

Projected role: Starting right fielder.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Selected from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 11, 2000.

By the numbers: Has never played more than 136 games in a professional season. Hit 14 home runs before the All-Star break last season and 14 after the break. Led the team with a .482 slugging percentage. His best month was July, when he hit .314 with seven homers. Batted just .234 after April.

X-factor: Gibbons played last season with his right wrist in pain and had two minor surgeries during the offseason to try to fix it for good. The Orioles are still giddy about his power potential, but he'll have to stay healthy to show it.

C Geronimo Gil

Height: 6-2. Weight: 227. Age: 27.

Projected role: Starting catcher.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers with P Kris Foster for P Mike Trombley on July 31, 2001.

By the numbers: Threw out 33 of 91 runners (36.3 percent) trying to steal against him, the second-best percentage in the AL behind the Angels' Bengie Molina (42.7 percent). Allowed an AL-high 19 passed balls. Hit.198 after the All-Star break. The Orioles were 55-62 in his starts and 8-33 when others caught.

X-factor: Playing his first full major league season, Gil got into 125 games and seemed to tire late in the year. To keep him better rested, the Orioles might increase backup Brook Fordyce's time behind the plate.

LHP Buddy Groom

Height: 6-2. Weight: 201. Age: 37.

Projected role: Setup man.

Contract: Signed through 2004.

How he got here: Signed a two-year contract as a free agent Dec. 22, 1999.

By the numbers: Only pitcher in major league history to appear in 70 or more games for seven straight seasons. Led AL relievers with a career-best 1.60 ERA. Allowed 8.4 runners per nine innings, the second-best ratio in the AL. Opponents batted .196 against him. First batters hit .127. Held lead in 35 of 37 appearances. Had 19 holds.

X-factor: The Orioles can pencil him in for 70 appearances again because he's showing no signs of slowing. It's a tribute to his effectiveness and durability that teams inquire about him despite his contract and advanced age.

2B Jerry Hairston

Height: 5-10. Weight: 179. Age: 26.

Projected role: Starting second baseman.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Drafted in the 11th round in 1997.

By the numbers: Led the Orioles after the break in average (.291), on-base percentage (.355) and steals (12). Was batting .222 through his first 31 games. Had a career-high nine- game hitting streak beginning July 20, batting .455 during that time. Led the club with eight sacrifice bunts. Has led the team in steals the past two seasons. His 77.8 percent success rate ranked 10th in AL.

X-factor: Given another chance to be the leadoff hitter, Hairston seized it this spring. But Brian Roberts always is lurking at Triple-A, so Hairston can't get too comfortable.

RHP Rick Helling

Height: 6-3. Weight: 221. Age: 32.

Projected role: No. 3 starter.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Signed to a minor league contract Feb. 10, 2003.

By the numbers: Was 10-12 last year and has reached double figures in wins five straight seasons. Opponents scored three runs or fewer in 23 of 30 starts. Was 9-2 when given two or more runs of support. Posted a 1.54 ERA in August. Allowed 31 homers last season as the Arizona Diamondbacks' No. 3 starter, seven fewer than the previous summer. Won 20 games for the Texas Rangers in 1998.

X-factor: Helling once gave up 41 homers in a season (1999). The Orioles need him to keep the ball from flying out of Camden Yards.

RHP Pat Hentgen

Height: 6-2. Weight: 202. Age: 34.

Projected role: Long reliever.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Signed as a free agent Dec. 19, 2000.

By the numbers: Made four September starts in his first major league activity since ligament-transplant surgery in his right elbow Aug. 9, 2001, and he lost all four games. Batters went 31-for-92 (.337) against him. Was 2-2 with a 2.21 ERA in six rehabilitation starts. Has 68-42 career record away from home, sixth best among active pitchers with 100 road decisions.

X-factor: Hentgen, the 1996 AL Cy Young Award winner, hasn't pitched out of the bullpen since 1993 but will be doing that to start the season. It will be important for him to adapt quickly as the long man.

RHP Jason Johnson

Height: 6-6. Weight: 219. Age: 29.

Projected role: No. 4 or 5 starter.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Acquired from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for OF Danny Clyburn on March 29, 1999.

By the numbers: Has posted double figures in losses three straight seasons, going 16-36 during that time. His .263 winning percentage last season was the third lowest in AL. Made two trips to the disabled list and missed his last start while active because of injuries. Was 3-3 in seven starts in which he allowed only one run. Lost two 1-0 decisions.

X-factor: A candidate to be traded, Johnson needs to start winning and staying healthy. His lack of consistency puzzles club officials.

RHP Jorge Julio

Height: 6-1. Weight: 215. Age: 24.

Projected role: Closer.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Acquired from the Montreal Expos for 3B Ryan Minor on Dec. 22, 2000.

By the numbers: His 25 saves fell two short of Gregg Olson's club rookie record. Didn't have a save opportunity after Aug. 15. Placed third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. His 1.99 ERA ranked fourth among AL relief pitchers. Opponents batted .213 against him. Went 22 consecutive games without allowing an earned run.

X-factor: Julio has held the closer's job in part because of his ability to overcome adversity. He blew two save tries and went 0-4 with an 11.57 ERA in nine games beginning May 11, then began to dominate again while never losing confidence.

IF Jose Leon

Height: 6-0. Weight: 222. Age: 26.

Projected role: Utility infielder.

Contract status: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for Will Clark on July 31, 2000.

By the numbers: Began the season at Triple-A and batted .364 the first month. Had two hits in his first major league start June 20 at Arizona. Batted .286 with the Orioles in September. Hit safely in 17 of his 23 starts with the Orioles. A career .260 hitter in the minors with 109 homers in 833 games.

X-factor: Leon is proof that the Orioles weren't completely fleeced during the 2000 salary purge. He'll probably return to the minors when David Segui is activated, but he has had a strong spring at the plate and improved his stock.

RHP Kerry Ligtenberg

Height: 6-2. Weight: 222. Age: 31.

Projected role: Setup man.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Signed as a free agent to a one-year deal with an option for 2004 on Jan. 16, 2003.

By the numbers: With the Atlanta Braves last season, posted his lowest ERA (2.97) since 1998. Was his first major league season without pitching in a save situation. Tied for second among NL relievers in first-batter efficiency, allowing six hits in 42 at-bats. Allowed runs in 12 of 52 games. Compiled a 1.75 ERA when pitching on fewer than three days' rest. Opponents hit.130 with runners in scoring position.

X-factor: Ligtenberg appeals to the Orioles because of his playoff experience with the Braves and ability to close if Jorge Julio needs a break. He brings a winner's mentality.

RHP Rodrigo Lopez

Height: 6-1. Weight: 188. Age: 27.

Projected role: No. 1 starter.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 23, 2001.

By the numbers: Placed second in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Led the Orioles with 15 victories, tops among AL rookies. Also led rookies in ERA (3.57), strikeouts (136) and innings (196 2/3 ). Named AL Rookie of the Month for July after going 6-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Opponents batted .234, eighth lowest in AL. Won seven of his first eight decisions after an Orioles loss.

X-factor: With only one full season in the majors, he has already become the Orioles' ace. Until Lopez proves he has staying power, skeptics will continue to point out Jose Mercedes' flameout.

OF Gary Matthews

Height: 6-3. Weight: 225. Age: 28.

Projected role: Starting center fielder.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Acquired from the New York Mets for P John Bale on April 3, 2002.

By the numbers: Tendinitis in his right wrist kept him from starting the final 36 games last season, and the Orioles went 4-32 in that stretch. Batted .310 from May 3 to Aug. 10. Hit .292 with six home runs from the left side and .239 with one homer from the right side. Stole 15 bases, two more than his previous career total.

X-factor: Matthews has never gone into a season with an everyday starting role, so this is a huge year for him. Last year, he spent long stretches batting third in the order, and he should feel less pressure in the No. 2 spot.

OF/IF Melvin Mora

Height: 5-11. Weight: 198. Age: 31.

Projected role: Reserve outfielder, infielder.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Acquired from the New York Mets with IF Mike Kinkade, P Lesli Brea and P Pat Gorman for SS Mike Bordick on July 28, 2000.

By the numbers: Hit .265 before the All-Star break and .195 after the break last season, including .137 in September. His 557 at-bats were 121 more than he had ever had in his big league career. Had 19 home runs after never having more than eight in another professional season.

X-factor: Mora is still a trade target, but he's making $1.73 million now, and some teams that would normally be interested are shying away.

IF Jose Morban

Height: 6-1. Weight: 170. Age: 23.

Projected role: Backup infielder.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Twins on Friday.

By the numbers: A Rule 5 draft pick who began his pro career in the Texas Rangers' system. Batted .260 last year at Single-A Port Charlotte. Had four RBIs with the Twins this spring, three coming on a home run off Omar Daal. Committed 30 errors in 2001 and 34 last season.

X-factor: Morban, who cost Jeff Reboulet a roster spot, must stay with the Orioles all season or be offered back to the Rangers. Though he's primarily a shortstop, they'll try to expose him to other infield positions. The concern is that a season like this could stunt his development.

RHP Sidney Ponson

Height: 6-1. Weight: 237. Age: 26.

Projected role: No. 4 starter.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Signed as a non-drafted free agent Aug. 17, 1993.

By the numbers: Won only seven times, but the Orioles finished 17-11 in his starts, the same as they did in Rodrigo Lopez's games. Received the fourth-lowest support among AL starting pitchers with 4.09 runs per nine innings. Went at least six innings in 22 of 28 starts. Tied for ninth in the AL with three complete games but lost them all. Was winless in six June starts despite an ERA of 2.41.

X-factor: Every poor start will raise concerns over Ponson's torn labrum, which he insists doesn't affect his pitching. He's a free agent after the season and remains available in trade.

RHP Willis Roberts

Height: 6-3. Weight: 242. Age: 27.

Projected role: Middle- and late-inning relief.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 15, 2000.

By the numbers: Was scored upon in eight of his last 19 outings, raising his ERA from 1.96 to 3.36. Gave up seven runs over three appearances, Aug. 24 to Sept. 1. Didn't allow a hit or walk in his first five appearances. Stranded 31 of 49 inherited runners. His only save came April 20 at Tampa Bay.

X-factor: Roberts has started, closed and been used in a set-up role. Now the Orioles want to bring him into games a little earlier, behind Ligtenberg and perhaps Bauer. He would rather close or set up.

LHP B.J. Ryan

Height: 6-6. Weight: 244. Age: 27.

Projected role: Middle- and late-inning relief.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Acquired from the Cincinnati Reds with P Jacobo Sequea for P Juan Guzman on July 31, 1999.

By the numbers: Set a career high with 67 appearances. Was scored upon in seven of 34 appearances after June 30, posting a 2.48 ERA. Stranded 39 of 50 inherited runners, including 17 of the first 18 through May 31 and 14 of the last 16 starting Aug. 1. Held the lead in 17 of 18 games.

X-factor: It's time for Ryan to be effective for a full season rather than teasing the Orioles, as he did during the second half last year. His mechanics have a tendency to get out of whack.

DH/1B David Segui

Height: 6-1. Weight: 220. Age: 36.

Projected role: Designated hitter and backup first baseman.

Contract: Signed through 2004.

How he got here: Signed as a free agent to a four-year contract Dec. 20, 2000.

By the numbers: Injuries have limited Segui to 108 games the past two seasons. He played in only 26 last year before having surgery on his left wrist. Went 3-for-5 on Opening Day but 1-for-23 his next six games. In the past two seasons, the Orioles are 46-65 with Segui in the lineup and 74-128 without him.

X-factor: Segui was hitting .407 this spring before fracturing his right thumb March 12; he's expected back Saturday. When healthy, he's the No. 3 hitter in a lineup that desperately needs his run production.

OF B.J. Surhoff

Height: 6-1. Weight: 215. Age: 38.

Projected role: Part of left-field platoon with Marty Cordova.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

How he got here: Signed as a minor league free agent two days before spring training.

By the numbers: Surhoff, who spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Orioles before being sent to the Atlanta Braves in July 2000, has 2,048 career hits. Hit .293 with no home runs in 25 games for the Braves last season before going down with a knee injury. For his career with the bases loaded, Surhoff is a .411 hitter.

X-factor: Surhoff tested his surgically repaired right knee this spring numerous times and passed every time. He's a better defensive player than Cordova, so if he can stay healthy, he should get more playing time.

Manager Mike Hargrove

Age: 53.

Tenure: Fourth year as O's manager.

Contract: Signed through 2003.

Managerial history: Hargrove begins his fourth season as Orioles manager and 13th season as a major league manager. He has a 204-281 record in his three seasons in Baltimore, finishing fourth in the American League East all three years. In nine seasons as manager of the Cleveland Indians, Hargrove was 721-591. He led the Indians to five straight AL Central Division titles from 1995 to 1999, and advanced to two World Series, in 1995 and 1997.

Orioles coaches: Terry Crowley, hitting coach; Rick Dempsey, first base coach; Elrod Hendricks, bullpen coach; Sam Perlozzo, bench coach; Tom Trebelhorn, third base coach; Mark Wiley, pitching coach.

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