By Jacob Luft, SI.com
Player I Saw Whom I Really Liked
Between Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro, the Orioles can put on a show in batting practice. Apparently, so can Larry Bigbie. The returning left fielder more than held his own with the 500-home run club members before Wednesday's game against the Mets, depositing about a half-dozen balls into the right-field bleachers. Bigbie also showed off his power swing in the game, when he took Steve Trachsel deep in the fourth inning to kickstart a six-run inning for Baltimore in an 8-2 victory. The 27-year-old Bigbie hit 15 home runs in his first full season in the major leagues last year and should get more pitches to hit now that he's batting second in front of the 3-4-5 power trio of Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada and Sosa. "That's a lot of protection for me," Bigbie says. "Pitchers are going to go after me instead of them, so hopefully I can ambush them."
Team's biggest strengths
Left side of the infield. With apologies to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, Tejada and Mora are the top shortstop-third base combo in the American League. Both Orioles sluggers claimed the Silver Slugger awards for their respective positions last year, and Tejada was robbed of the AL Gold Glove when the always-subjective voting went Jeter's way.
Team's biggest weakness
Center field. Luis Matos had a terrific 2003 season, batting .303 with a .353 on-base percentage, but a fractured shin limited him to 89 games in 2004. The Orioles are watching him closely this spring to see if he has fully recovered. They are also trying out journeyman David Newhan, but his only experience in center has been in the minor leagues.
A handful of members of the Beltway media were lying in wait for Palmeiro and Sosa to arrive at the clubhouse Thursday morning, hoping for a comment about the Orioles sluggers' being subpoenaed to testify before Congress about steroids in baseball. Palmeiro deflected all questions to his lawyer, while Sosa said he would not comment until he heard about the matter from his agent. ... Do the Baltimore Ravens need offensive-line help? The Orioles might have a candidate in Walter Young, a 25-year-old first baseman who checks in at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds. The Calvin Pickering clone is the organization's top power prospect -- ranked No. 11 in the system overall by Baseball America -- after cracking 33 home runs in Class AA last season. His glovework isn't first-rate by any means, but he did appear rather nimble for a big guy while taking infield practice.