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Trio expected to make up for O's losses

Baltimore needs big production out of Machado, Wieters and Davis in 2015

BALTIMORE -- It will be a tough task to replace both Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in 2015, but the Orioles are relying on having a healthy Manny Machado and Matt Wieters. While Machado will be a full go in Spring Training, Wieters will be watched carefully, with the O's hopeful he will be available for Opening Day.

Slugger Chris Davis will also be counted on to bounce back after a disappointing 2014 season that ended with a 25-game suspension (the suspension will finish on Opening Day). At the top of the order, Alejandro De Aza has the most leadoff experience and is a top candidate to take over for Markakis there, while Steve Pearce is coming off a career year. J.J. Hardy seemed confident at last month's FanFest that he would return to form offensively, and Jonathan Schoop should be more consistent in his sophomore season.

The rotation has six guys for five spots right now, and Ubaldo Jimenez will be watched closely this spring. Signed to a four-year deal last year, the O's can't just give up on Jimenez -- who was removed from the rotation down the stretch -- after one bad season. So, expect him to get another shot. Still, Kevin Gausman has made great strides, and it will be tough if he has a great spring to not list him among the Orioles' top five starters.

It's very early, and a lot can happen between now and the start of the season. Below are some very preliminary projections, including a projected lineup against right-handed pitching. Delmon Young, who re-signed with the O's on a one-year deal, is expected to be in the lineup regularly against left-handers.

Video: Orioles look to pitching, returning veterans in 2015

2014 record
96-66, first in the American League East

Projected batting order
1. LF De Aza:
.252 BA, .314 OBP, .386 SLG, 8 HR, 41 RBI in 2014
2. 3B Machado:
.278 BA, .324 OBP, .431 SLG, 12 HR, 32 RBI in 2014
3. CF Adam Jones:
.281 BA, .311 OBP, .469 SLG, 29 HR, 96 RBI in 2014
4. 1B Davis:
.196 BA, .300 OBP, .404 SLG, 26 HR, 72 RBI in 2014
5. DH Pearce:
.293 BA, .373 OBP, .556 SLG, 21 HR, 49 RBI in 2014
6. C Wieters:
.308 BA, .339 OBP, .500 SLG, 5 HR, 18 RBI in 2014
7. SS Hardy:
.268 BA, .309 OBP, .372 SLG, 9 HR, 52 RBI in 2014
8. RF Travis Snider:
.264 BA, .338 OBP, .438 SLG, 13 HR, 38 RBI in 2014
9. 2B Schoop:
.209 BA, .244 OBP, .354 SLG, 16 HR, 45 RBI in 2014

Projected rotation
1. Chris Tillman, 13-6, 3.34 ERA in 2014
2. Wei-Yin Chen, 16-6, 3.54 ERA in 2014
3. Bud Norris, 15-8, 3.65 ERA in 2014
4. Miguel Gonzalez, 10-9, 3.23 ERA in 2014
5. Gausman, 7-7, 3.57 ERA in 2014
6. Jimenez, 6-9, 4.81 ERA in 2014

Projected bullpen
Closer: Zach Britton, 37/41 saves, 1.65 ERA in 2014
RH setup man: Darren O'Day, 1.70 ERA in 2014

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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