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Thursday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles took some pictures

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Yesterday was photo day, and a reminder of how many new faces are in Orioles camp this year.

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day
This man stands 38th on the career strikeout list.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

Although you may have had to shovel out some snow yesterday, there are now just 35 days remaining until the next Orioles game. Opening Day is a mere five weeks away! The first game on the exhibition schedule is now just two days away, which also helps things feel a little warmer. There will be baseball back on your TV and on your radio very soon.

It’s been 30 days since Mike Mussina, the greatest Orioles pitcher of my lifetime, was elected to the Hall of Fame. The team has not yet announced any plans for a jersey retirement or statue.

Yesterday was the annual spring ritual of photo day. Scanning the gallery of photos was a reminder of just how many new faces there are to the organization, and how many less-recognizable returning faces have been elevated to competing for big league jobs. There are not very many household names on this team even if your household is full of dedicated Orioles fans.

There is a new manager, new coaches. Some minor league signings are hanging around hoping for jobs on what will probably be the only MLB team that might employ them in 2019. Some prospect-ish players are doing the same. The result is a lot of photos like this:

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Who is this unmasked man? He is catcher Martin Cervenka. If you were paying attention very closely to Camden Chat’s daily minor league recaps last season, you might have seen his name showing up when talking about the Bowie Baysox. I would not recognize him if I passed him on the street, even if I saw him in an Orioles uniform. He’s competing for the backup job. Heck, he might be competing for the starting job.

The Orioles acquired Dillon Tate from the Yankees in the Zack (then Zach) Britton trade last July. Do you have any idea what he looks like? If not, here:

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It’s not very hard to smile when you’re wearing a big league uniform. I wish the best for Cervenka, Tate, and everyone else competing for a spot this spring. I would like nothing more than for these guys to make their way onto the Orioles and then surprise the world with their quality.

By the way, there are a lot of pictures of players who are sporting beards, some of whom did not sport beards before. We are going to soon find out whether the Orioles miserly facial hair policy has carried on into the Elias/Hyde era. Maybe the ascendant Angelos sons don’t care about that one quite as much as their dad seemed to. This is not among the 20 most important things to watch as camp progresses, but it is a subject for curiosity nonetheless.

Around the blogO’sphere

Yefry Ramirez to start Grapefruit League opener against Twins (Baltimore Sun)
Whoever started this game was only going to throw an inning or two, but still...

Orioles need to find a position for Mountcastle’s glove before they can promote his bat (The Athletic)
One of the deflating things from the early days of spring training was “Ryan Mountcastle working out at first base.” He’s also getting reps at third base. We’ll see which sticks.

More on Yacabonis’ role in camp (School of Roch)
Jimmy Yacabonis seems to have inherited the mantle of pitcher who the team tries out as a starter every spring even though nobody really believes it will work from Mike Wright.

Mike Yastrzemski trying to make his own name in first Orioles camp (Baltimore Baseball)
Good luck to him. There does seem to be some room in the MLB outfield, at least in the short term.

For Alex Cobb, first live BP session shows importance of full spring after last year’s rush (Baltimore Sun)
Longtime readers of this site know I am a grump when it comes to spring training. Part of the reason for that is the stream of headlines like this one. Cobb certainly didn’t seem to be helped by signing late last season, and I hope he’s better this year, but as far as acting like the first live bullpen session matters, give me a break.

Orioles honor Frank Robinson on uniforms (Orioles.com)
The #20 patch on the sleeves all season is the easiest thing the Orioles could have done. It’s still nice ot know that they’re going to do it.

Birthdays and anniversaries

One lone former Oriole has a birthday today. Happy 74th to 1971-72/75-77 reserve outfielder Tom Shopay.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: memoir writer Anais Nin (1903), philosopher John Rawls (1921), musician Nina Simone (1933), actor Kelsey Grammer (1955), baseball Hall of Famer Alan Trammell (1958), novelist David Foster Wallace (1962), Key & Peele’s Jordan Peele (1979), Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland (1980), and actress Sophie Turner (1996).

On this day in history...

In 1613, a national assembly elected Mikhail I as tsar of Russia. The dynasty he founded, the Romanovs, reigned until 1917.

In 1848, Marx and Engels published The Communist Manifesto.

In 1916, the German army attacked French positions at Verdun. A back-and-forth battle over the next 303 days eventually resulted in a French victory, with over 300,000 soldiers killed between both sides and nearly half a million more wounded.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon went to the People’s Republic of China, establishing normal diplomatic relations with that country for the first time.

In 1975, Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, and his aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, were sentenced to prison for their roles in the Watergate scandal. Each of the three ultimately served about 18 months.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 21 - or at least, unless something important happens later down in Sarasota. Have a safe Thursday.