There are now 35 days to go until Orioles Opening Day. This number is in use, at least for now, by Dwight Smith Jr., and hopefully will eventually be retired since it belonged to Hall of Famer Mike Mussina. Over the history of the franchise, it’s also seen use by Brad Brach, Daniel Cabrera, Gary Roenicke, and Mike Cuellar.
Just two days remain until the first Grapefruit League action. The O’s visit the Braves on Saturday at 1:05. The game will have an online-only audio broadcast, like the O’s did during last spring training. If you want to see them on Baltimore TV, you’ll be waiting three days more for the first home game and first MASN appearance of camp.
I’m curious when we’ll end up seeing or hearing the new broadcasters who were announced yesterday. Just about every familiar name is back in some capacity or another, though it’s not clear at all from the announcement exactly who will be doing what and how often they will be on air.
Camp rolls on. The biggest stories so far have involved who did or didn’t get sick shortly after reporting. One of the latest to suffer this fate is Chris Davis, so much to fellow Camden Chatter Tyler Young’s chagrin, Davis remains a topic of discussion. Maybe once the games start up, the positional battles will move to the forefront a bit more. There is a lot to be settled. 40% of the starting rotation is a mystery. Much of the bullpen is up in the air.
Infield and outfield bench spots appear to be up for grabs too - infield particularly, with a lot of the offseason roster churn involving one utility infielder being swapped for another. Talking about all of that will at least be more interesting than the last week. I’m looking forward to having a more specific idea about what will be bad about the 2020 Orioles rather than just a general sense of resignation about the whole endeavor.
Here’s Adley Rutschman taking batting practice:
Two huge batting practice homers for Adley Rutschman to end this round. One cleared the batter’s eye in center field: pic.twitter.com/EPXGT2p7LY— Joe Trezza (@JoeTrezz) February 19, 2020
Around the blogO’sphere
Adley Rutschman, Orioles catcher of the future, loving his first big league camp (Baltimore Baseball)
I hope Rutschman gets to play in one of the games that’ll be on MASN before he gets inevitably reassigned to minor league camp.
Hyde on Rutschman: “He’s come here and he’s not been afraid” (School of Roch)
With as much as Brandon Hyde talked about the importance of creating relationships after he was hired, I think his greatest praise for Rutschman might be noting “he’s creating good relationships with guys.”
Inbox: Where does Ryan Mountcastle play? (Orioles.com)
Beat writer Joe Trezza dug into his Twitter replies to answer some questions, including from regular CC commenter CamdenWarehouse. On Mountcastle, he could play either outfield or infield corner in spring games.
Finally over the flu, Hunter Harvey ready to join the competition for bullpen roles (Baltimore Sun)
If Harvey’s a successful late-inning reliever by season’s end, that’s one thing that could make the 2020 Orioles feel like a springboard towards a better future.
Dwight Smith Jr. looking for a repeat spring performance (Steve Melewski)
It’d probably be more exciting to imagine an outfield with Smith if not for Santander/Hays/Mancini seeming like a good bunch last September.
Orioles claim Andrew Velazquez, designate Richard Urena (MLBTR)
Eventually, maybe one of these utility infielders will get in a game with the Orioles. For now, Mike Elias picks up new ones and discards the previous ones with regularity.
MLB team payrolls as spring training begins (Fangraphs)
Whether the Orioles are the worst team in MLB is for the regular season to decide. They will start that regular season with the second-lowest payroll of any team, barring a surprise addition.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Today in 2016, there were reports that the Orioles had signed starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to a three-year contract. The signing took a dramatic turn when the Orioles physical got involved. Gallardo was eventually signed to a two-year contract. Regrettably, the O’s brain trust failed to recognize he should not be signed to any contract at that point in his career.
Among the players who could have been chosen in the draft slot forfeited by signing Gallardo - that year’s #13 overall - are current top 5 prospect Gavin Lux (unattainable in Manny Machado trade talks) and top 20 prospect Forrest Whitley (unattainable in Zack Britton trade talks).
A pair of former Orioles were born on this day. They are: 2016 six-game outfielder Julio Borbon, and the late Jim Wilson, who pitched in seven games for the 1956 Orioles.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Battle of Bunker Hill commander William Prescott (1726), actor Sidney Poitier (1927), basketball legend Charles Barkley (1963), 80s/90s supermodel Cindy Crawford (1966), musician Kurt Cobain (1967), comedian/host Trevor Noah (1984), and musician Rihanna (1988).
On this day in history...
In 1472, Norway pawned the islands of Orkney and Shetland to Scotland rather than pay a dowry for Margaret of Denmark - daughter of then-king Christian I of Norway - to wed Scotland’s James III.
In 1816, the Rossini opera The Barber of Seville premiered in Rome.
In 1877, the Tchaikovsky ballet Swan Lake premiered in Moscow.
In 1942, Lt. Butch O’Hare single-handedly took on a flight of nine Japanese bombers heading for his carrier, USS Lexington. He is credited with shooting down five of the planes, making him America’s first World War II flying ace and first Navy member to receive the Medal of Honor in that war. O’Hare was shot down in a night attack the following November; his plane was never recovered. O’Hare International Airport in Chicago has been named after him since 1949.
In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in a roughly five-hour flight that saw him complete three orbits.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 20 - or at least, until something happens later down in Sarasota. Have a safe Thursday.