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Friday Bird Droppings: Where baseball is only a day away

Today is the 145th straight day without Orioles baseball. That streak ends tomorrow.

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles-Workouts Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Baseball, actual (fake) baseball, is nearly upon us.

Tomorrow, after an offseason full of upheaval, Orioles players will play a baseball game against an opponent for the first time since last Sept. 30.

The last time we watched the Orioles take the field, most fans were more than happy to say goodbye to baseball, desperate for the season of torture that was 2018 to meet its merciful end. What we were witnessing could barely be considered professional baseball. I, for one, was anxious for a long break.

But what can I say? I’ve got the itch again. A few months without baseball made me realize how much I miss it, even if this year’s Orioles club is likely to be almost as bad as last year’s. I can’t wait to get going (and please remember I said that when August rolls around and the O’s are careening toward another 100-loss season).

I’m intrigued to get my first gander at the new-look Orioles under Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde. Tomorrow at 1 PM in Sarasota, that’s what we’ll get, as the O’s kick off their Grapefruit League schedule by taking on the Twins (who boast former O’s fan favorites Jonathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz, though I’m not sure if either will be making the bus trip).

We don’t yet know who will be in the Birds’ lineup tomorrow, although the beats have reported their scheduled pitchers: Yefry Ramirez, Josh Rogers, Mike Wright, Paul Fry, Evan Phillips, Bo Schultz, and Zach Pop.

(heavy sigh) Get excited!


New Orioles GM Mike Elias making positive first impression in early interactions with players - Baltimore Sun
Count Orioles players among those impressed with Mike Elias. Personality-wise, for starters, he seems like a night and day difference from his predecessor.

Chris Davis hoping quiet approach at plate brings loudest results - School of Roch
Chris Davis says he’s made some minor adjustments to his batting stance involving the timing on his front foot. Somehow I’m skeptical that’ll be the key to reversing his fortunes, but hey, at least he’s trying something different.

Alex Cobb likes the Orioles new direction this spring -
Alex Cobb is the latest to lament how far behind the analytics curve the previous O’s administration was. It feels good to know the Orioles have finally made their way out of the Stone Age.

Machado’s deal is best-case scenario for him and for Orioles’ fans, but it may not be a win-win for the Padres – The Athletic
Dan Connolly offers his assessment of Manny Machado’s megadeal with San Diego, and he’s skeptical that Manny can be the clubhouse leader the young Padres need. That may be true, but hey, that’s what a manager is for. Just let Machado be an awesome player and good things will happen.

Osich eyes fresh start in lefty-heavy bullpen -
Not mentioned in this article is that Osich has been assigned No. 35. So if you were still wondering whether the O’s are planning to retire Mike Mussina’s number, I think that question has been answered.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have six O’s birthday buddies, the most prominent of which is Orioles Hall of Famer and Maryland native Steve Barber, who pitched for the Birds from 1960-67. The two-time All-Star lefty went 95-75 with a 3.12 ERA in 253 games for the O’s, and he was the Opening Day starter for the Orioles in their 1966 World Series championship season. Barber, who died in 2007 at age 68, would have been 81 today.

Another late Oriole born on this date was righty Ryne Duren, who appeared in just one game for the O’s in 1954 but had a 10-year career elsewhere, and was the inspiration for the character Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the Major League movies. He would have been 90 today. Those still with us celebrating birthdays are lefty John Halama (47), outfielder Ramon Nivar (39), infielder Kelly Johnson (37), and lefty Brian Duensing (36). None spent more than one season with the Orioles.

On this day in 2014, the Orioles reached agreement with Nelson Cruz on a one-year, $8 million deal. A league-leading 40 home runs later, I’d say that contract worked out pretty, pretty well.