There are now 21 days remaining until the next Orioles game. That’s right, Opening Day is three weeks from today! It’ll be here before we know it, whether the O’s themselves are ready or not.
Between now and then will be a bunch more spring games. The Orioles were victorious in yesterday’s Grapefruit League contest, beating the Rays, 9-6, to improve to 7-4-2 in spring action. Pitchers Bo Schultz and Luis Ortiz were bad, but home runs by Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, and Mike Yastrzemski, plus a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double hit by Yusniel Diaz provided enough offense for the O’s to win anyway.
Today, the Orioles travel to the Pirates spring home. The game will be streamed free online through Orioles.com or the MLB At Bat app. Mike Wright Jr. is scheduled to make the start, with Miguel Castro, Branden Kline, Josh Osich, Yefry Ramirez, and Dillon Tate are also expected to pitch in the game.
Right now, the biggest story in Orioles camp might not lie in who is playing but who isn’t playing. Chris Davis is vaguely “day-to-day” with what’s been described as a sore hip flexor. Beat reporters Roch Kubatko and Peter Schmuck joined yesterday’s Orioles game stream at separate times and told similar jokes about how Davis’s hip isn’t so bad to stop him from getting away from the media, with Davis apparently saying he’d be back in a few minutes and just never coming back.
Whether a player talks to the media is one of those things that often rates as a petty concern only for beat reporters who need to pad out articles with quotes filled with platitudes. Who cares, right? But when a guy batted .168/.243/.296 last year, hasn’t given any impression from early on this spring that things are going to be any different, and now is on the shelf for an unknown amount of time, it just doesn’t seem like a great look to weirdly avoid the people with tape recorders.
Counting deferred money, the Orioles still owe Davis $110 million of the $161 million contract he signed before the 2016 season. He is a topic of conversation even when there’s nothing new to say because it remains mind-boggling that we are in this place. During yesterday’s game stream, a whole inning was consumed with Schmuck and Steve Melewski talking about Davis, because at that moment they were more interested in talking about Davis than doing play-by-play of Ortiz stinking in a game that doesn’t count.
Even the usually-docile Baltimore beat crew cannot talk around a situation like this. There’s no sugar-coating a $23 million/year man with a .539 OPS. Schmuck started a train of thought about how Davis looks passive even in spring training and Melewski practically shouted, “He’s taking pitches down the middle! In spring training!” They noted the contrast between Davis’s approach and the frequently-mentioned mantra from manager Brandon Hyde that players should be aggressive and unafraid to make mistakes from aggressiveness during this camp.
Where is it all going? Nobody knows. The reporters counseled patience for fans who want to see the team dump Davis by the end of spring training. I agree with them to a point, in that there isn’t a ton of harm to the team in giving Davis a little more time with the new regime to adjust.
For a young team that’s looking to rebuild, though, the opportunity cost of the lost roster spot is only going to grow over time. If Davis looks as lost as 2018 throughout 2019 and they punt on making a final decision, that will be increasingly frustrating to watch play out. The best case scenario is if Davis rebounds significantly and looks like he still belongs in MLB, but that dream will be harder to hold on to the longer it goes without Davis doing something to make it seem like he’s heading in a different direction.
It’s been 44 days since Mike Mussina was elected to the Hall of Fame. The Orioles have not announced any plans for a jersey retirement or statue.
Around the blogO’sphere
Caution with Nate Karns is likely to open a rotation spot (Baltimore Baseball)
The signing of Karns seemed to lock up the #4 spot in the rotation, as long as he remained healthy, but an early setback seems like it will keep him from getting stretched out for the beginning of the season, so the competition is open again, at least for now.
Halfway through spring training, the young Orioles are getting to know themselves (Baltimore Sun)
It’s a feel-good sort of story to know that the new-look Orioles are forming friendships with one another. It doesn’t change how this season is probably going to go.
Means unimpressed with outing (School of Roch)
Lefty John Means had some self-criticism after his outing yesterday, even though he pitched three scoreless innings.
Fans report technical difficulties while trying to buy Opening Day tickets (Baltimore Sun)
If you’re a season ticket holder who had problems trying to get Opening Day tickets yesterday, you aren’t alone. I’m quite surprised there was sufficient demand to overwhelm any system.
Photos from Orioles Athletes and Artists Play for Kids 2019 (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
Looks like it was a fun time for everybody. The team said that some of the proceeds will go towards establishing arts education scholarships for students in Sarasota, Baltimore, and Nashville.
Birthdays and anniversaries
One lone former Oriole has a birthday today: 1998 outfielder Joe Carter.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Scottish outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor (1671), photography inventor Nicephore Niepce (1765), folk singer Townes van Zandt (1944), and actress Jenna Fischer (1974).
On this day in history...
In 1573, the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire signed a peace treaty that ended the Fourth Ottoman-Venetian War, which had been waged for the past three years. The war began when the Ottomans invaded Cyprus, with the treaty confirming Ottoman control of the island.
In 1850, Senator Daniel Webster delivered a speech endorsing the Compromise of 1850, which passed after Webster’s support. The compromise resolved some slavery-related disagreements, for a little while at least.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for his new invention, the telephone.
In 1965, civil rights activists marching in Selma, Alabama were attacked by state and local police. The attack is known as the Bloody Sunday of the civil rights era.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on March 7 - or at least, until something happens later in Florida, even if it doesn’t count. Have a safe Thursday.