We come, at last, to the conclusion of this seemingly-interminable spring training season. We've been wanting real baseball all winter, and spring training only does so much to whet the appetite. This is the last of the fake games - or at least, it's the last of the fake games where both teams are making a token effort to play real major league players. The Orioles, in fact, have three more tune-up games remaining, one each Monday and Tuesday against a different Florida college team and one against the Norfolk Tides on Wednesday.
Still, today's game, televised on MASN and on the radio as well, is the final game of the Grapefruit League. It's the last chance that anyone who's auditioning for a spot will have to impress against major league competition - though really, one might rather hope the O's aren't going to judge off a one-game sample anyway. All that's left to settle is the composition of the bullpen, and likely the order of the rotation. Buck Showalter has yet to name an Opening Day starter, or any starter, as far as I can tell. Today's starter Wei-Yin Chen would seem to be a lock for somewhere in the rotation.
Playing for the Orioles: Chavez (LF), Hardy, Markakis, Jones, Wieters, Johnson (DH), Reynolds, Davis, Andino
That is a lineup we could see on Opening Day, though I hope Nolan Reimold gets the start instead of Chavez. I have learned to be ready for disappointment when it comes to Reimold playing time.
The Rays are playing some guys: Jennings (CF), Pena (1B), Longoria (3B), Keppinger (DH), Rodriguez (SS), Molina (C), Joyce (LF), Johnson (RF), Brignac (2B), with James Shields pitching. I think that is something resembling an actual MLB lineup as well.
In spring training, the O's have won some games, lost some games, tied some games. In two weeks none of that will matter. We fans will either be in the throes of elation due to unexpected success, despair due to wholly anticipated catastrophic failure, or perhaps in the middle, our minds not quite made up yet. Can Opening Day get here already? At least we're closer than we were.