Good morning, Birdland!
Spring training is great, isn’t it? We have the entire season ahead of us. Anything can happen. The Orioles could actually be good! It’s possible. Unlikely, sure, but still possible.
The Birds have won three in a row, including back-to-back victories over the Pittsburgh Pirates in which they outscored them 24-4. It’s easy to forget how fun winning can be while living through a rebuild.
Chris Davis has been the biggest storyline of the spring. So far, the much maligned slugger is 4-for-5 with two home runs, three walks and zero strikeouts. Perhaps he’s back? Count me as unconvinced until he performs against major league competition.
What’s more interesting is Ryan Mountcastle’s current offensive rampage. In 16 at-bats the former first-round pick is hitting .438 with a home run, three doubles and just one strikeout. He has also not worked a walk yet, which is one of the things the Orioles wanted to see him improve prior to handing him a big league call-up. Even still, it has been more bad than good for the 23-year-old.
The Orioles gave Mountcastle jersey number six this spring. That’s significant in that it is a desirable number. It’s not in the 80’s or 90’s like many of the minor league afterthoughts typically sport in the spring. The number is indicative of where the O’s feel Mountcastle sits in the pecking order. He’s nearly ready for the show.
That, of course, does not mean that Mountcastle will be in Baltimore on Opening Day. It feels almost like a guarantee that he will not. The team can say they want to improve his plate discipline and work on some defensive adjustments. Those are are fair points. But it will really be a service time issue. Why start the clock on someone during a season in which the big league team will struggle? It’s logical, albeit a bit boring. For now, we will just have to enjoy Mountcastle as a spring training treat.
Hays and Mountcastle making spring statements (O’s win 11-4) - School of Roch
What role will Austin Hays fill on the Orioles once they are ready to compete? I’m not sure he is a center fielder long term, despite his propensity to make a jaw-dropping catch from time to time.
Outfielder Cedric Mullins gets off to a strong start in camp - Steve Melewski
What a difference a year makes. Cedric Mullins had a rough 2019 and came into 2020 looking to prove himself. Unless something wild happens, he won’t be on the Orioles 26-man roster to start the season. But he has the makings of a perfect fourth outfielder if he cant produce enough with the bat.
Givens and O’s bullpen hope to rebound in ‘20 - Orioles.com
The bullpen may be the part of the team that gives me the most hope for progress. There is a ton of talent in that group. They just need to get healthy and start producing closer to the level at which they are capable.
Chris Davis talks about leadership, his hot start and Astros discipline - Baltimore Baseball
I hope Davis is back for real. Was the secret really adding 25 pounds in the offseason? That seems unlikely. But the 33-year-old has had a solid spring so far.
Orioles birthdays and history
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday! In non-leap years do you celebrate on February 28 or March 1?
The only current or former Orioles player born on this rare day is right-handed pitcher Stefan Crichton. The now-28-year-old appeared in eight games for the 2017 Orioles, allowing 11 runs on 26 hits in 12.1 innings of work. Not great.
As you would imagine, not much has happened in Orioles history on this day. So, here are some other events that have occurred elsewhere in the baseball world:
1888 - Cincinnati Red Stockings catcher Kid Baldwin punches the umpire during an argument and is nearly arrested.
1944 - Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Howie Schultz is rejected for military duty for the second time on account of his 6-foot-6 frame.
1972 - Hank Aaron signs a record-breaking three-year contract worth $200,000 per year with the Atlanta Braves.
2008 - The judge overseeing the BALCO case rules that Barry Bonds’s testimony should be made public.