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1. Will second baseman Brian Roberts be back?

OK, this is an easy one. After 13 seasons with the Orioles, Roberts left this winter and will play for the rival New York Yankees. It was a bit of a blow for Orioles fans, not necessarily because the 36-year-old is gone but because of where he landed. Roberts irked some Orioles fans by telling the YES Network that most kids dream of playing for the Yankees. He later clarified those statements to The Baltimore Sun, saying he did play in his backyard in North Carolina wearing a Yankees uniform, but that was partially because one of his father's players at the University of North Carolina was with the club. Roberts also stressed that he loved his time in Baltimore and will always consider himself an Oriole. What made this the No. 1 issue heading into the offseason was that -- if Roberts left -- it would make an opening at second base, and, theoretically, create a competition for the starting spot. Ryan Flaherty was the favorite at that point, and he is still the favorite. Jonathan Schoop could be the heir apparent for the position, but the consensus is that the 22-year-old needs more time in the minor leagues. We didn't know in October, however, that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette would go out and acquire several other under-the-radar candidates for second base and utility infielder, including trading for Jemile Weeks, signing nonroster invitees Ivan De Jesus Jr., Cord Phelps and Alex Gonzalez, and re-signing Alexi Casilla to a minor league deal. At the time, we also didn't know that third baseman Manny Machado would choose offseason knee surgery, which would make him questionable for Opening Day. That potentially creates more flux at second base if Flaherty has to step in temporarily as the starting third baseman.
Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun
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