SARASOTA, Fla. – Last year, J.J. Hardy batted second nearly every game. This year, Buck Showalter wants to change that.
“I would like to get J.J. out of the two-hole. I wanted to last year, I think his skill set serves him better and our team better somewhere else, but I’m not committed to that yet. Just like last year he was our best option there, he did a good job for us. But I think we could put him in a better position to do what he does best if I can get him down some,” Showalter said.
If Brian Roberts plays and plays well, Showalter would probably bat him first and Nick Markakis second. If he doesn’t play, Markakis may return to leadoff where he was so successful for two months before being hurt.
Roberts has asked Showalter to play him often this spring, and the manager is only too eager to oblige.
“We’ve gone over the whole spring, we’ve sat down multiple times,” Showalter said. “He will have a pair of [road] gray pants in his locker, unlike some of our guys. “
Teams are required to field a representative lineup on the road, and Roberts will play more often on the road than Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.
“He wants to play as much as I’m willing to play him,” Showalter said.
Roberts will play a lot during the final seven-to-10 days of spring training.
“I’m not going to beat him up; he’s still getting ready for the season, but he will get more at-bats than he normally does in the spring,” Showalter said.