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Friday Bird Droppings: Where it’s Orioles workout time

The Orioles have reported to summer camp. Finally, they’ll take the field at Camden Yards, over three months later than expected.

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Today, this field will finally be in use for the first time in 2020.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

MLB players have reported to summer camp. The season has not yet been shut down again. Regular season baseball is still on track to return by the end of this month.

Whether that will still be the case by the end of the month, who knows? Yesterday, the Philadelphia Phillies set a nerve-wracking precedent by quietly placing four players — including former O’s reliever Tommy Hunter — on the injured list with undisclosed injuries, which has led to speculation that they tested positive for COVID-19. As part of MLB’s health and safety protocols this year, players can be placed on a COVID-19 injury list, but teams are not allowed to announce which players are going on the list because of health safety laws. So players being put on the IL without their specific injuries being announced is, well, kind of a dead giveaway that they’re headed to that list.

Those four Phillies players are likely just the beginning. In the coming days and weeks, and all throughout the season (however long it lasts), we’ll surely see other players dropping off MLB rosters due to coronavirus, even if those transactions can’t officially be announced. Will the number of affected players be low enough — and the cases mild enough — that MLB can justify continuing to play out the season? I hope so, but I’m skeptical.

So far, the Orioles apparently haven’t had any COVID-related complications as players have arrived to camp. That, of course, could change. For now, though, they’ll be on the field at Camden Yards at last, training in earnest in hopes of a July 23 or 24 Opening Day.


Orioles still deciding next step for Kjerstad after signing him - School of Roch
With the minor league season officially canceled, the O’s have nowhere to send newly drafted Heston Kjerstad for actual competition, which stinks. But at least that’ll do away with one of my least favorite post-draft traditions, where fans turn into panicky second-guessers when their top pick struggles for his first two or three days in affiliated ball.

Orioles’ Bleier: ‘These are regular major league games and we need to be ready for them’ -
In my head, the question that prompted that headline quote was, “What kind of games are these? Do you need to be ready for them?” That was not the case, but this is a good interview with Richard Bleier all the same.

Simulating the 2020 Orioles: A final look at how the club’s top prospects fared – The Athletic
Dan Connolly’s simulated Orioles finished with the worst record in the majors, but there were some standout performances on the (virtual) farm, including Adley Rutschman and Yusniel Diaz. Not so much for Grayson Rodriguez and Austin Hays, though.

Will the 2020 season produce a legit World Series champion? - Steve Melewski
If the 2017 Astros’ championship still counts, then this one should, too.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share your day with three ex-Orioles, including the aforementioned Tommy Hunter, who turns 34. If he does indeed have COVID-19, today is certainly not the best birthday he’s ever had. Let’s hope Hunter has a speedy recovery. Other ex-Orioles born on this day are 1979 lefty Jeff Rineer (65), who appeared in only one MLB game and recorded three outs while facing two batters, and the late 1957-60 outfielder Al Pilarcik (b. 1930, d. 2010).

July 3 has been a banner day in Orioles history. From 1961-1974, the Orioles won 15 consecutive games on this date, including three doubleheader sweeps. A common theme of that streak was brilliant starting pitching. The Birds threw a whopping eight complete games in that stretch, including two apiece by Milt Pappas and Pat Dobson, and one each by Wally Bunker, Tom Phoebus, Jim Hardin, and Mike Cuellar.

Honorable mentions: In 1967, Phoebus and reliever Moe Drabowsky combined for 14 scoreless innings in Chicago, with the O’s ultimately winning a 1-0 game. And in 1974, after starter Dave McNally was ejected in the first inning for arguing a pair of balk calls, Doyle Alexander threw 8.2 scoreless innings of relief in a victory at Fenway. McNally came back to pitch in relief in the second game of the doubleheader, getting the final two outs for one of just two saves in his career.

The O’s offense also shined during the July 3 win streak. In 1965, they scored seven runs in the eighth inning — including three-run homers by both Curt Blefary and Jerry Adair — to beat Cleveland, 8-4, and in 1973 they put up a six-spot in the eighth for a 9-7 comeback over the Brewers in the opener of a doubleheader, then won the nightcap on an Elrod Hendricks walkoff homer in the 10th.