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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Pitchers and catchers! Pitchers and catchers!

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They’re reporting today, in case you didn’t know.

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It’s tiiiiiiiime.

After another long, often brutally dull offseason for the Orioles, we can finally begin the run-up to baseball season in earnest. Today, pitchers and catchers officially report to Sarasota for spring training, the first major sign that the 2020 campaign will soon be upon us.

I look forward to this occasion every year, even though nothing particularly significant will be happening on the field today. Just the idea of Orioles players all gathering together at the ballpark after their winter hiatus, unpacking their equipment and introducing (or re-introducing) themselves to teammates, puts me in the mood for baseball more than just reading about offseason roster moves could ever do.

A few of the Orioles’ beat writers have already descended upon Sarasota, ready to fill up their notebooks and tape recorders as players trickle in. The interviews will be coming fast and furious. Soon we’ll hear from players who are in the best shape of their lives, who are looking for an opportunity to prove their mettle, who are optimistic about the coming season. They’ll mostly, of course, be meaningless platitudes; last year at this time, Luis Ortiz boasted about how he’d lost 25 pounds over the winter, and you saw how much good that did him. Still, I can’t wait to hear from everyone. Bring it on.

From here, we can start ticking the important dates off the calendar for the next few weeks until the real games begin. Tomorrow is the first official workout for pitchers and catchers. Position players report by Sunday, and the day after is the first full-squad workout. Exhibition games begin on Saturday the 22nd, the first game in Sarasota is the following day, and then...well, then there’s a lot of Grapefruit League action until camp breaks on March 23. The O’s begin their regular season schedule in Baltimore on March 26, a full 44 days from now.

So, yeah, there’s still a little bit of a wait before Opening Day. But when pitchers and catchers report, that wait starts to feel a lot more manageable.

Links

MLB plotting playoff expansion with reality TV twist - New York Post
Actually, forget everything I just said about being excited about baseball. This convoluted travesty of a plan makes me want to swear off the sport. I mean, what the fresh hell is this?

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Richie Martin’s tough spot; a cool caravan; a jammed camp – The Athletic
Dan Connolly has nice things to say about the Orioles’ inaugural Birdland Caravan, which wrapped up its 12-city tour on Sunday. It seems to have been a rousing success from what I’ve heard from fans and media. Kudos to the Orioles for the good idea, and hopefully the caravan will ride again next year.

4 takeways from Orioles’ first Birdland Caravan - Orioles/com
Another useful thing about the caravan: it gave reporters a chance to stock up on quotes from Orioles who attended the various events. Here, Joe Trezza checks in with Sig Mejdal, Grayson Rodriguez, Eddie Murray, and others.

Playing a numbers game with the Orioles - School of Roch
The Orioles will have a whopping 66 players in camp this spring. That’s a lot, right? I’m not sure I even know 66 people.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have three O’s birthday buddies, all of whom pitched for the team within the last 10 years. Chief among them is lefty Brian Matusz, who is just 33 today but has been out of MLB for four years. He never developed into the top-of-the-rotation starter the O’s envisioned when they drafted him fourth overall, though he did become a useful lefty specialist for a while. Matusz spent 2019 with the independent Long Island Ducks. Others with birthdays today are 2012 reliever Matt Lindstrom (40) and 2015 two-gamer Cesar Cabral (31).

Feb. 11 has historically been a day for the Orioles to sign terrible veteran starting pitchers. On this date in 2003, the O’s inked Rick Helling, who went 7-8 with a 5.71 ERA in 24 starts that year. And in 2008, they re-signed Steve Trachsel, who imploded for an 8.39 ERA in 10 games to finish his 16-year career. So if the O’s sign a veteran starter today, be wary.