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Orioles' Buck Showalter declines to name leadoff hitter yet

Orioles outfielder Alejandro De Aza appears to be a favorite to serve as the club's leadoff hitter this season, but manager Buck Showalter wouldn't make that official Saturday.
Orioles outfielder Alejandro De Aza appears to be a favorite to serve as the club's leadoff hitter this season, but manager Buck Showalter wouldn't make that official Saturday. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked several times about the club's vacant leadoff spot during his meeting with the media and his two Q&A sessions with the fans, but he didn't give any clear indication of how that player will be chosen.

Instead, he downplayed the importance of the role, and the notion that outfielder Alejandro De Aza might win it by default.

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"Somebody's going to lead off Opening Day, I'll bet you,'' Showalter said. "Our guys don't talk about it a lot. I've said many times, take your best hitter and hit him first and give him more at-bats.

Showalter said there wouldn't be an "audition" for the role, but instead the team would choose "what fits our batting order and what best fits the opposing pitcher and the bullpen that night."

De Aza, who batted .293 in 20 games after he was acquired in late August from the Chicago White Sox, has hit first in the lineup in 296 of his 487 career starts, making him the most experienced leadoff hitter on the roster. He said he's comfortable in that role and lets the game dictate how he handles each at-bat there, but didn't campaign for the spot.

"I can't just go there and tell them 'I want to be leadoff' and [have] coaches just give me the leadoff spot," De Aza said. "I'm just going to work hard and they're going to do what's best for the team."

jmeoli@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonmeoli

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