As spring training approaches, Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley likes what he has to work with.
“I feel good with our lineup. There are so many good hitters,” Presley said. “Our lineup is pretty much set.”
Presley is in his 12th year as a major league hitting coach, his fourth with the Orioles. He’s worked with some of the hitters, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters throughout his tenure.
One of the additions, David Lough is someone he really likes. When the Orioles were in Kansas City last July, Presley and manager Buck Showalter saw the outfielder for the first time.
“We really need to get this kid,” Presley told Showalter. “He plays hard, he runs everything out, he knows how to bunt. It looks like he’s a pretty good defender. He’s high energy, and that’s what I liked about him.”
Lough is set to be the left fielder. His on-base percentage isn’t high enough to merit him being the leadoff hitter yet. That may fall to Nick Markakis.
For two months in 2012, Markakis led off to great success.
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“You can hit Nick first, third, fifth. He’s that good of a hitter. His health issues are out of the way now,” Presley said.
Ryan Flaherty will probably be the second baseman. Presley thinks there’s some promise there.
“He’s got to put the ball in play. Obviously they’re going to throw him breaking balls. We’re going to work on that in spring training. I told him that when he started to work out over the winter. He can hit the fastball. We’ve got to get him into more hitters counts where he can see the fastball,” Presley said.
“I think he’s matured a little bit more because he’s had this experience and he’s played in some playoff games.”
Presley has coached some wonderful hitters in his time with Arizona, Florida and the Orioles. He’s had Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera as well as Chris Davis.
“I hate waiting on the three-run home run because you’re going to get beat most of the time waiting on that. You score early, you score in the middle, you score late. Hopefully you score five or six runs after nine innings and we pitch good enough to win the ballgame,” Presley said.
Presley gets lots of credit for Davis’s wonderful 2013. He’s realistic about Davis trying to equal those stats this year.
“Is he going to repeat that? It’s hard to do. It really is. I just try to keep him on an even keel. Let’s hit 30. Let’s drive in 90-100 and help our ball-club win. I’d rather him driving in big RBIs late in the ballgame than hit 55 and drive in 130. I’d really would. I’d rather him hit 33, drive in 95 and have some big hits for us. It’s going to be hard for him to have that kind of year,” Presley said.