Orioles in win now mode after offseason additions

SARASOTA, Fla. — First there was a lot of losing. Then the 2012 baseball darlings who advanced to the postseason for the first time since 1997, and last year, the disappointment when the Orioles were eliminated from the postseason race in the season’s final week.

So, after a pair of marquee free-agent acquisitions at the start of spring, is Baltimore now the front-runner in the American League East? A team that some people in baseball believe could win 100 games if the bullpen holds up? Or are the Orioles still cast in the underdog role — a spot manager Buck Showalter has thrived in rallying the club around — with a rotation headed by Chris Tillman and new addition Ubaldo Jimenez, perhaps banking on too much to fall in their favor?

One thing is certain: the Orioles — who also signed free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz — aren’t sneaking up on anyone. Those days are long gone.

“We don’t have it?” Showalter said cheekily of the underdog label heading into Opening Day on Monday against the Red Sox. “Tampa probably has the best four- or five-year track record of consistency, Boston is [defending] world champion and New York obviously spent a lot of money, did a lot of things. So, on the surface, yes, of course [the Orioles look to be underdogs].

“But we don’t get involved in who is expected to do what, because nobody is going to have higher expectations than what we already have.”

Click here to read the rest of the Orioles season preview.

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