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Thursday Bird Droppings: Where spring training competitions are coming

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The Orioles don’t have a whole lot going for them, but they do have a lot of spring position battles coming up soon.

Baltimore Orioles Introduce Mike Elias - News Conference Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 49 days until the next Orioles game. Opening Day is just seven weeks away. Each passing day that the mega-free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned adds to the weirdness of the whole situation - not that the O’s are the ones who will resolve it in any way. Spring training is less than a week away.

It’s been 16 days since Mike Mussina, the greatest Orioles pitcher of my lifetime, was elected to the Hall of Fame and the team has not announced any plans for a jersey retirement or statue.

There’s not much left to be settled for the O’s between now and the start of spring training. The guys they have now, for better or worse, are who they will pick from to make a roster at the end of March. Most likely that’s for the worse, at least for this year. They’re not alone in eschewing the signing of MLB free agents this offseason.

The one O’s signing that’s being mooted is Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez, who as of Tuesday has been cleared to sign with any team. In some ways, this is a familiar story from earlier in the offseason. It wasn’t so long ago that “only the Orioles have money left!” to sign Victor Victor Mesa was something we were saying. Then suddenly the Marlins had money, and the Rays had money to sign Sandy Gaston, and the O’s got bupkis.

One difference between now and then is that back then the O’s were in between general managers. Now, Elias is in charge, and it seems that the next generation of Angeloses has empowered him to spend money internationally as he sees fit.

That’s no guarantee that Sanchez will sign here, because he may yet wait to sign until the start of the next signing period on July 2. But at least Elias gives us reason to believe that if the guy can be signed, the Orioles will sign him. That’s something different than six months or two years ago.

Around the blogO’sphere

Spring training roster preview: Outfield full of young talent could help define team’s rebuilding process (Baltimore Sun)
If the Orioles have three good outfielders at the MLB level by year’s end, the first phase of the rebuilding might not totally suck.

Eyeing a few of the spring competitions at Orioles camp (School of Roch)
There’s something inherently uninspiring about the possibility of two Rule 5 picks competing for a shortstop job. But maybe Mike Elias is better at picking these guys than Dan Duquette was.

Orioles, Rangers, Astros have recently scouted Yolbert Sanchez (MLB Trade Rumors)
If Sanchez wants a path to the big leagues, the shortstop knows there’s only two Rule 5 picks ahead of him. Hopefully that, plus the money that only the O’s can offer him before July, will entice him to sign.

Can a former overslot Houston draft pick make it with the Orioles? (Steve Melewski)
A competition between Renato Nunez and Rio Ruiz also does not seem to be the stuff of legend.

Trade retrospective: Orioles trade Jake Arrieta to Cubs for Scott Feldman (Beyond the Box Score)
(sobbing)

Birthdays and anniversaries

In 2012, Orioles scouts were banned from amateur events in South Korea after the Dan Duquette fiasco of attempting to sign pitcher Seong-Min Kim, who turned out to be a lesser player than was first stated and the O’s never ended up signing anyway. Man, I forgot how bizarre that situation was.

There are a number of former Orioles with birthdays today. They are: 2013 acquisition Scott Feldman, 2007 short-timer Jon Leicester, 2012 reserve outfielder Endy Chavez, 2004 swingman Dave Borkowski, 1979-84 reserve Benny Ayala.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: tractor man John Deere (1804), novelist Charles Dickens (1812), author Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867), musician Garth Brooks (1962), funny man Chris Rock (1965), and basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash (1974).

On this day in history...

In 1812, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 8.0 struck New Madrid, Missouri. This is the strongest recorded quake to ever strike east of the Rockies in America.

In 1898, a libel trial began in France against writer Emile Zola for his pamphlet J’Accuse...! which asserted the innocence of French army officer Alfred Dreyfus, who had been imprisoned for espionage. Zola was found guilty of the libel, but Dreyfus was ultimately exonerated in 1906.

In 1904, a fire broke out in Baltimore on the spot of what is today Royal Farms Arena. Before the fire was contained 30 hours later, over 1,500 buildings were destroyed across 140 acres in what’s today regarded as the third-worst fire to ever strike an American city. One legacy of the Great Baltimore Fire was the wider adoption of standardized fire hydrants, as out-of-town fire companies that arrived to try to help could not hook their hoses to Baltimore hydrants.

In 1979, then-planet Pluto’s orbit moved inside the orbit of planet Neptune, the first time this had occurred since either was discovered.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 7 - or at least, unless something happens later, like if the Orioles announce their minor league coaching staffs or giveaway schedule. Have a safe Thursday.