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Monday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles have won five straight that don’t count

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Opening Day is now 24 days away. The Orioles are looking better than we might have guessed through a week-plus of meaningless spring games.

Miami Marlins v Baltimore Orioles
Chris Davis has made the most of his spring opportunities so far.
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 24 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. The uniform number 24 is currently in use by DJ Stewart. It has been worn by a number of players across franchise history, including by Rick Dempsey and by Rick Dempsey’s nephew, Gregg Zaun.

The spring training schedule rolls on this afternoon as the Orioles host the Rays. This is one of only two spring training games that will be on both MASN and on the Orioles Radio Network, so hopefully there will be something to enjoy for O’s fans who tune in.

There certainly have been some positives about this exhibition season so far. The O’s as a team have won five straight games to improve their spring record to 6-4. That included a 3-2 victory yesterday that saw John Means go nine up, nine down against the Phillies.

Since it’s spring training, it doesn’t mean anything, just like the unexpected non-horrible performance by Chris Davis doesn’t mean anything. But there’s also nothing going on to talk about other than these meaningless things, so the tendency is there to try to find meaning in the meaningless anyway.

I still think that anyone indulging in “What if Davis is really better?” is setting themselves up for disappointment in the end. Still, it’s interesting that manager Brandon Hyde and pretty much every broadcaster have all been saying that Davis looks like a different guy than last year, not just with his added 25 lbs. but also with the way he’s taking swings and approaching at-bats generally.

On Saturday’s radio broadcast, Kevin Brown and Ben McDonald kept trying to temper their Davis excitement with “just saying,” which proved to be difficult as they explained how Davis had just homered off a lefty pitcher (former Orioles farmhand Stephen Tarpley) who has dominated lefties the past two years. Late last week, MASN’s Steve Melewski said of the different look Davis, “doesn’t mean he’s going to hit 40 home runs ... but he might!” I’m going to wait a little longer before getting so optimistic about Davis.

Maybe because those guys are the ones closest to the team, they just have the most incentive to want to believe something better is going on. Or maybe there’s really something to it? According to Baseball-Reference, Davis has faced roughly Triple-A-level pitchers on average. That’s not what he’ll face in the regular season, but for the first week-plus of spring training, that’s a good test.

The fact that Davis is even having this non-horrible spring is interesting even if it’s meaningless. Who would have guessed he’d have three home runs already and only one strikeout? If he doesn’t slump for the remainder of spring training, he might actually start the regular season with some semblance of positive momentum.

Around the blogO’sphere

Five Orioles reassigned to minor league camp (School of Roch)
The first wave of cuts are always guys who had a 0% chance of being on the Opening Day roster. In this case, three of the five are prospects who will hopefully make an impact in MLB eventually: Rylan Bannon, Zac Lowther, and Alex Wells.

Zac Lowther soaks in the experience at O’s camp (Steve Melewski)
Lowther did pitch a scoreless inning yesterday before getting reassigned. This will not be the last time we hear his name.

Sunday Notes: John Means working on a new pitch this spring training (Fangraphs)
Tucked into the usual Fangraphs Sunday column are some thoughts from John Means on his new pitch, going from zero to what he is now, and more.

Orioles future really could be bright with a little help from Austin Hays and his friends (Baltimore Sun)
Hays and Ryan Mountcastle have played together for three years now. Looking forward to seeing a fourth in 2020.

Orioles think Hunter Harvey has the right stuff to key bullpen improvement (Baltimore Baseball)
“I definitely think he has closer stuff,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I don’t know where we’re going with all that stuff, yet.” It feels like Harvey threw more than 6.1 innings in MLB last year.

Meet Yusniel Diaz: Prospect shares favorites (Orioles.com)
Diaz is really into The Fast and the Furious movies, it turns out.

Cobb on simulated game, Stewart on ankle (School of Roch)
Cobb only threw one inning in his spring debut due to something flu-like. He says he’s better now.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

There are a number of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2013-15 pitcher Bud Norris, 2001-07 outfielder Jay Gibbons, 1990-95 infielder Leo Gomez, and a pair who passed away in the 90s: 1958-59 reserve outfielder Joe Taylor, and 1954-55 outfielder Cal Abrams.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Oxford library founder Thomas Bodley (1545), Texas city namesake Sam Houston (1793), children’s book author Dr. Seuss (1904), baseball Hall of Famer Mel Ott (1909), actor Desi Arnaz (1917), last Soviet Union president Mikhael Gorbachev (1931), musician Jon Bon Jovi (1962), rapper Method Man (1971), and actress Bryce Dallas Howard (1981).

On this day in history...

In 1476, Duke Charles the Bold’s Burgundians were defeated by the Swiss Confederacy in the Battle of Grandson. When Charles was killed in another battle the following year, Burgundy was absorbed by France and by the Habsburgs.

In 1807, Congress passed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves. The act took effect in 1808, the earliest that the Constitution allowed such a prohibition.

In 1933, the film King Kong premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

In 1949, a B-50 piloted by Captain James Gallagher landed in Fort Worth, having completed the first non-stop around-the-world flight in 94 hours and one minute.

In 1965, American and South Vietnamese planes began the Operation Rolling Thunder bombing campaign of North Vietnam, which lasted more than three and a half years and saw almost a million tons of explosives dropped on the North.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on March 2 - or at least, until something happens later down in Florida. Have a safe Monday.