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Friday Bird Droppings: Where it’s almost Grapefruit League season

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The Orioles begin their spring training slate this weekend. It’ll be a while before we can draw any conclusions from these games.

Miami Marlins v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Orioles spring training has been running smoothly so far — knock on wood — and we’re two days away from the club squaring off against an opponent for the first time since last September. The Birds will begin Grapefruit League play on Sunday, kicking off their exhibition slate by hosting the Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.

The game won’t be televised, and at this point there’s no indication that MASN plans to televise any spring training contests. So we’ll just have to use our imaginations about whether O’s hitters are making solid contact or the ball looks good coming out of the pitchers’ hands.

Still, we probably won’t be missing much. Spring training games are fine and all, but don’t expect them to give you any kind of indication about the season ahead. The earliest spring training games, especially, are mainly about players just shaking off the rust. And since the camp roster is still full, those early games often feature tons of players who won’t end up logging any significant time — or any time at all — with the Orioles during the regular season.

Take last year’s exhibition opener. No Orioles hitter got more than three plate appearances, and of the six O’s hurlers who pitched, only two of them ended up making any regular season appearances with the Orioles (and those two, Cody Carroll and Branden Kline, pitched just three games each). There are lots of unfamiliar names in the box score; does anyone remember who R.Urias, M.Canelo, or Zastryzny, are? (Ironically, the Braves’ winning pitcher in that game was now-Oriole Felix Hernandez.)

Don’t get me wrong — if the game were on TV, I’d gladly watch. But mainly just for the entertainment value, not because we can read anything into the results.

Links

Orioles notes and quotes from today's workout - School of Roch
Thomas Eshelman will be starting Sunday’s opener. And, again, that probably doesn’t have any special significance; the Birds’ last two exhibition opener starters were Chandler Shepherd and Yefry Ramirez, as Roch Kubatko notes.

Mullins, Hays competing for job in center - Orioles.com
I still say Austin Hays should be the favorite for the starting center field job, if he can stay healthy. But Cedric Mullins is a useful guy to have as a backup. If they both play well enough to warrant everyday at-bats, well, that’s one of those good problems to have.

Orioles’ Mountcastle gets ready for Year 2; Sulser aims for bounce-back season - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Ryan Mountcastle will be an intriguing guy to watch this year. Will he fend off the dreaded sophomore slump, or will pitchers find a way to exploit the plate-discipline issues he had in the minors?

Top Picks, Revamped Infrastructure Have Baltimore Orioles Farm System On The Rise - Baseball America
The Orioles’ farm system has taken a step forward under Mike Elias’s leadership, but as Jon Meoli notes, former GM Dan Duquette laid the groundwork for the rebuild before his departure. It’s a team effort, you guys.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your lone Orioles birthday buddy is righty Josh “Control” Towers (44), who had an impressive beginning to his major league career in 2001, delivering seven quality starts in his first eight starts. He ended up pitching eight years in the bigs, mostly with Toronto.

Feb. 26 has historically been a slow day for Orioles news. On this day in 2017, the O’s re-signed infielder Paul Janish for his third season with the club. Weird fact: Janish appeared in exactly 14 games in each of his three years with the Orioles. And in 2018, the Birds re-signed Pedro Alvarez for his third year with the club after he’d put up solid numbers in the first two. Alvarez, though, batted just .180 with a .698 OPS in 45 games for the horrendous 2018 Orioles and never appeared in the majors again.