The Orioles are 24 days away from playing their first real game of the year. That’s not very many days in the grand scheme of human existence, but for spring training it’s quite a lot.
There are many cuts to be made between now and then to get the O’s down to the newly-expanded 26-man roster. A lot of these are only a matter of time before they happen, like last year’s #1 overall pick Adley Rutschman. Other players really have a chance to win themselves a job, especially if they are starting pitchers, relievers, or utility infielders.
What it all means is that if you tune in to the Orioles either on TV or on the radio this Monday afternoon - it’s one of just two Grapefruit League games that will have both a MASN and an Orioles Radio Network broadcast - the team that you are seeing or hearing is not going to much resemble the one that will take the field on Opening Day.
Here’s the starting lineup that’ll probably be in for five or so innings:
- Austin Hays - CF
- Trey Mancini - RF
- Chris Davis - 1B
- Renato Núñez - 3B
- Dwight Smith Jr. - LF
- Pat Valaika - SS
- Chance Sisco - C
- Martin Cervenka - DH
- Andrew Velazquez - 2B
Asher Wojciechowski is the starting pitcher for the day. Others who will probably get in there for at least one inning are Chandler Shepherd, Bruce Zimmermann, Travis Lakins, and Tanner Scott.
Depending on how things shake out over the course of the regular season, you could make the case for any one of these fringe guys having a chance to get some playing time at some point or another. As far as guys regularly in the starting lineup when late March rolls around, though, there are probably only four or five here today, with the “maybe” hinging on how optimistic you are about the kind of playing time Sisco will receive.
One game is only one game, and it’s only one spring game at that, but it’ll still be interesting to see whether the unexpected Davis revival continues another day. He could strike out three times and it won’t necessarily be over, of course. It’s just that if he gets on base another three times and/or hits another home run, that will fuel a lot more of people starting to get hyped up in spite of everything they’ve seen for the past three seasons.