Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Orioles spring training in a month and eight days now. The O's don't even know everyone who will be reporting. They're hardly the only team in this situation, since there are a number of big name unsigned free agents who don't seem to be in a rush to get contracts inked.
It all adds up to the only real news at the beginning of this week being the gathering of young-ish Orioles in Sarasota for the team's winter minicamp. This event amounts to little more than an excuse to have a bunch of players show up at the team facility there to make sure that their arms have not fallen off since the end of the baseball season.
For a couple of key Orioles pitching prospects, still having their arms attached is good news. Both Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy were battling various problems that kept them from pitching as much as they might have back in October and November. Bundy was shut down from further action in the Arizona Fall League, while Harvey was shut down in the informal environment of the O's fall instructional league.
Both are doing better now, though of course we have heard this all before. Harvey told O's reporters that his elbow is now "100 percent" and that he's been doing some throwing, including a few bullpen sessions, for a month and a half. That's some good news for a guy who missed basically the whole 2015 season.
Bundy told O's reporters that he has been throwing for a month at home and described the issues that led to his AFL shutdown as "not serious." Let's hope he's right. Neither player actually did any throwing today, though that was planned out ahead of time. Maybe tomorrow.
The biggest thing that passed for news on day 1 of the minicamp is that the O's are considering giving a tryout to Maryland's own Gavin Floyd, the Mt. St. Joseph's product with whom they have seemed to be perennially linked for several years. That would take place at this minicamp, and if it works out, he could get an invitation to spring training next month.
Floyd, who is 33, has been plagued by injuries in recent years. He only made five big league starts in 2013 and nine in 2014. His 2015 work consisted of spending September in the Indians bullpen, where he tossed 13.1 innings over seven appearances.
There would be nothing exciting about the O's bringing Floyd to spring training. They've been unafraid to give players a chance to make comebacks. At the worst they can kick around Norfolk for a while and if they don't show they have anything left in the tank, it cost the O's little to give them a try.
Don't expect much from Floyd, but at the same time, stranger things have happened than a player reinventing himself after being mostly out of the game. Ryan Madson, who was essentially out of baseball entirely from 2012-14, surfaced with the Royals in 2015 and on the strength of that one season earned himself a $22 million contract at age 35.
One thing you're sure to get when reporters are around manager Buck Showalter is Showalter holding forth about whatever they want to ask him.
Here is one thing he said today:
Buck on Bundy's rehab: "He's going very maturely and smart, where he may not have been as much in the past."— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) January 11, 2016
If you want, you can find the full answer in this article on The Baltimore Sun website. It's still an uncharacteristically direct kind of criticism from him, although we can probably assume that Showalter has said whatever he has to say to Bundy long before he said this today in front of a group of reporters. Is he referencing how Bundy conducted himself before being drafted? Is it a reference to something Bundy did while in the O's system? It seems no one asked the follow-up.
The assembled questioners did manage to get his thoughts on the Chris Davis market:
Showalter on Chris Davis: "It wouldn’t surprise me if it went to February. It wouldn’t surprise me if it goes to March." #Orioles— Jon Meoli (@JonMeoli) January 11, 2016
We can probably safely guess that Showalter has some personal knowledge of the Davis market that exceeds what is generally known. So a comment like that could be informed speculation rather than just idly-offered opinion. If the Davis market stretches out until February or even March, do you think that's good or bad news for the O's?
I suppose it depends on whether March means March 1 or March 15. If it's early March, he's still got a full month to get ready for real games. If Davis signs on March 20 with the season starting on April 4, that's a lot less time to get himself ready to go.
It's still not totally clear that there's any other team out there who's looking to sign Davis at or near his current asking price, whatever that might be. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported that the Tigers "have discussed Davis," though he gave no indication things had gone any farther than that.
One final minicamp sub-plot. Last year's minicamp gave us the picture from MASN's Roch Kubatko that featured a Chris Tillman who looked like he'd sure gained some weight. Tillman dropped in on minicamp this year as well, though his presence was not required. Here's the clearest photo taken of him today, by a reporter who seems to think the beard is the most interesting thing to be looking at:
Unlike last year's photo, this one does not give such a good look at a side profile, so I'd have to say the results thus far are inconclusive.