Comeback campaigns crucial to O's in 2016

Baltimore needs Tillman, others to bounce back this year

Comeback campaigns crucial to O's in 2016

BALTIMORE -- If the Orioles are going to contend in 2016, certain guys have to step up.

And with Spring Training around the corner, MLB.com will be rolling out previews and predictions for the upcoming season, beginning with "On the Rebound." Sure, in a perfect world for the Orioles, every player would have a career year. But there are a few O's coming off down seasons whose on-field performance could go a long way in dictating the team's success in 2016.

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RHP Chris Tillman: The rotation as a whole needs to improve in 2016, but the Orioles' projected Opening Day starter is one of the biggest factors. Tillman, who pitched to a 4.99 ERA in '15, has to prove he can be a top-of-the-rotation guy for Baltimore again.

RHP Miguel Gonzalez: The typically consistent Gonzalez had a down 2015, marred by injury and underperformance. Gonzalez went 9-12 with a 4.91 ERA in 26 starts last year, but he is expected to be a full go in camp.

Gonzalez strikes out Venable

SS J.J. Hardy: Defensively, Hardy continued to anchor the infield last season. But the shortstop, who played the whole season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, had no power at the plate. Hardy hit eight homers -- his lowest total since 2010 -- with a .219 batting average in 114 games.

Hardy's RBI single

C Matt Wieters: What can the Orioles expect from a full season of Wieters, who accepted a qualifying offer this offseason? Sidelined until June as he made his way back from Tommy John surgery, the three-time All-Star catcher is a bit of a wild card. People often forget that, prior to Wieters' elbow injury in 2014, he was red hot at the plate and looked poised to have a career year. Can the switch-hitter give the O's that kind of production this season?

Wieters' two-run single

2B Jonathan Schoop: Anyone who watched Schoop the second half of the 2015 season knows that the infielder doesn't necessarily need a bounce-back year, he simply needs to stay healthy. Sidelined with a right knee injury that limited him to 86 games in 2015, Schoop could hit 25-plus homers this season.

O's expect big 2016 from Schoop

RHP Dylan Bundy: Since Bundy wasn't on the Major League team, he's an interesting name among the rebound candidates. But the right-hander -- who has dealt with a litany of injuries -- is out of Minor League options, and the Orioles are trying to find him a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. No one knows quite what to expect from Bundy, who was thought to be one of the best and brightest prospects when he was selected fourth overall in the 2011 Draft.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.