All across Florida and Arizona, full squads have reported and are working their way into playing shape. Pitchers are throwing bullpens and doing fielding practice, hitters are taking hacks in batting cages, all of it mundane but important. There will come a time in May or August or, if we're lucky, October, when the unexciting work that Orioles players are putting in now will matter in a real game. It's good to be prepared.
One way to prepare is to work on a new facet of your game. Chris Davis did some work on this front on Thursday, as during part of his practice time he was working on bunting down the third base line. It's like when the clouds part, the bright light from above shines through, and the angelic choir sings in perfect harmony. It seems like such a no-brainer that he should figure out how to do this. Easy enough for me to say. Maybe the potential gain really doesn't outweigh the opportunities he'd give up by looking to bunt.
Spring training video master and Baltimore Sun beat writer Eduardo Encina captured some of Davis' work in the cage:
Will #Orioles Chris Davis bunt more against the shift this year? Here's him dropping some down 3B line in practice. pic.twitter.com/VgcsxmOljL— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) February 26, 2015
Everything has to start somewhere. Actually, a couple of those look like they might get the job done. How often would he have to successfully bunt to alter the way teams shift against him? No one really knows the answer to this question because none of the shift sufferers have ever made a concerted effort to beat it.
I'm not holding my breath that Davis will try to be the first, but then again, he did bat under the Mendoza Line last year, so maybe he's got the right motivation to really try.
As spring moves along, Davis will also be doing work at third base and in the outfield. You never really know when suddenly you'll find yourself being the right fielder for a month.
Among the pitchers who threw off the mound today were Hunter Harvey and Logan Verrett, with video courtesy of MASN Orioles from Youtube:
A lot of these tweet embeds have been only 20 seconds, so this is a nice, slightly more extended look. Harvey is #62 on the far mound. Verrett is #64 on the near mound. Most of us who don't live near Delmarva have probably never seen much of Harvey in action before, although of course there's a big difference between spring training bullpens and the major leagues.
On the subject of starting pitchers, there's a Grapefruit League game in five days and one of them has to be the first one to pitch:
Buck said Jimenez will start the first spring game.— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) February 26, 2015
So there you have it, Ubaldo Jimenez will be the first O's pitcher to throw against another team this season. It's hard to imagine this means anything beyond the context of this one game. Jimenez starting Opening Day because of this would be crazy. The Orioles aren't crazy.
Not that spring success means much, but hopefully we get to see more of the supposedly-improved Jimenez in that snippet of an outing on Tuesday. Well, we won't get to see it exactly, since it won't be on MASN or even on the radio, but you know how it goes.
The O's will play a game against themselves on Sunday. Matt Wieters will catch in the game, but he won't throw. Must be nice to have a game where you can just make up the rules as you go along.
If you haven't already put yesterday's weird, manufactured Nick Markakis drama out of your mind, you can probably go ahead and safely do that now:
Buck said he received text from Nick Markakis today. Didn't say it, but indicated remarks might have been taken out of context. #Orioles— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) February 26, 2015
So if you said or thought something mean about Markakis, you can probably take it back because maybe he wasn't really all that mad.
We are now Kevin Gausman days away from Opening Day.