Monday Orioles spring roundup: J.J. Hardy extension talks, Frank Robinson's visit, more

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing much interesting happened on the practice field on Monday, but Frank Robinson came to talk to the team. As extension fever sweeps baseball, J.J. Hardy's reps met with the O's a few days ago.

There are only a couple more days remaining of mundane spring workouts and practices before the scrimmages and exhibitions get under way. Wednesday will be a four-inning intrasquad game. This may be marginally more exciting than the biggest news being who's throwing live BP and what minor league catchers came over so they had enough catchers. These included last year's second-round pick Chance Sisco as well as Steel Russell, son of John.

The most exciting bit of information of the day had nothing to do with spring training workouts at all:

Most of baseball in the non-Scott Boras division seems to have extension fever of late. After seeing the fate of some of the players who tested free agency with a lost draft pick attached to them, this makes it less surprising. If a player likes a situation, it could be better to just extend there rather than either take the qualifying offer or test the free agent market. For teams, the benefit of keeping key parts of the roster is obvious.

Hardy should be due for a nice raise after strong performance in Baltimore. He's shown he is less of an injury risk than once thought. He hasn't hit the disabled list in the last two seasons. He's shown power and slick fielding, if not good on-base skills, from the shortstop position. He would be in demand on a thin free agent market, but if the Orioles would like to have him back and Hardy would like to be back - which they both maintain in public statements - they ought to be able to work something out.

The other interesting thing from the day had nothing to do with working out, either. An Orioles great came to talk to the team:

Robinson was invited to speak to the team by Dan Duquette. He told beat reporters, "I'm proud of this team. They put the pride back in the Orioles."

The Orioles unveiled the statues of their Hall of Famers during the 2012 season. Frank Robinson's was shown first, in April, since he was the first to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As he spoke to the crowd on that night, he said that good times would be coming back to Baltimore within a couple of years.

At the time, this seemed like the kind of meaningless platitude you say because it's what you're supposed to say in that kind of speech. It makes the crowd feel good, and if you're wrong, no one's going to criticize you later for having said it. But maybe a great baseball player and manager recognized something special when he saw it. It's no platitude to say that this team has put the pride back in the Orioles. They are a laughingstock no more, although some of the world of media commentators may not have yet woken up to that fact.

The newest signees are still waiting to be put on the schedule. Ubaldo Jimenez doesn't yet know when he'll throw in a game. Nelson Cruz didn't work out today because "the O's are still working on a few things", whatever that means. One guess would be that they're preparing the corresponding 40-man roster move. As for Suk-min Yoon, he'll be making his spring debut either March 6th or 7th, depending on when his work visa comes through.

It's now five weeks until Opening Day.

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