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Flaherty looks in line to be O's second baseman

Flaherty looks in line to be O's second baseman

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Flaherty looks in line to be O's second baseman

BALTIMORE -- While the Orioles have a lengthy to-do list this offseason, it probably won't include an upgrade at second base.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said at the recent Winter Meetings that the organization -- still in need of pitching, a left fielder and designated hitter -- feels confident with its internal options. With longtime Oriole Brian Roberts gone to the Yankees, Baltimore is keeping its focus on filling other needs -- namely pitching -- first.

So, who could be playing second base in Baltimore this spring?

Ryan Flaherty would be the leading candidate on the Orioles' roster, with Duquette noting that projections for him over a full season estimate to be in the 20-homer range.

Flaherty, who has been working out at Camden Yards for most of the winter, put together a much better second half of the season in 2013, batting .242/.333/.500 after the All-Star break to help prop up his early-season struggles. A former Rule 5 Draft pick from the Cubs, Flaherty hit .217 with a .350 slugging percentage in his first 59 games this past season, taking over the bulk of the second-base duties when Roberts was unavailable due to injury.

Flaherty played in a career-high 85 games last season, and the 27-year-old's versatility is part of why the organization liked him so much, raising the question about whether he's the answer full-time at second base. Top position prospect Jonathan Schoop is another option, although the preference would be for Schoop -- a September callup in 2013 -- to get another month or two at Triple-A first.

Schoop, 22, has appeared in five career big league games and, barring any kind of injury or trade, is expected to start the season in the Minor Leagues.

The Orioles also have Jemile Weeks on their 40-man roster. He and recently outrighted Cord Phelps are switch-hitters who have experience at second. Weeks was acquired from the A's in the Jim Johnson trade, while the Orioles claimed Phelps off waivers from the Indians earlier this offseason.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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