Orioles fans have not had an easy time actually getting to see their favorite baseball team during this spring training. For pandemic reasons, workouts were closed to the public, and games have been played in front of limited capacity crowds, so even if someone made the trek from the Mid-Atlantic to Florida, they could not have watched. There has also been the ongoing mystery of why the Orioles-owned television network MASN has not bothered to air any of these games.
That changes today. In the final week of spring training, MASN is finally airing a game. If you cannot watch on TV because you’re stuck at work, the game will also be on 105.7 in Baltimore.
They will air another game on Thursday, and then that will be it until the regular season goes along. Orioles radio will air all games from now through Sunday’s game. For MASN, that’s two out of 28 games of the spring schedule. If a baseball player went 2-28, that would be a .071 batting average, a painful slump. Even Chris Davis, as terrible as he has been, has managed to stay above a .071 batting average.
Not that there will be any sign of Davis today. He’s remained a mysterious absence ever since the second game of the spring schedule, which is the first he played in. After that, he was said to have a lower back strain for which he has been receiving treatment. It is an odd scenario, though few fans, if any, have been missing him. I would be grumpier if I had to watch him play baseball today.
One reward, sort of, for waiting this long to get to see an Orioles game is that Adley Rutschman is in the starting lineup. Perhaps manager Brandon Hyde decided to do that just to throw a bone to the TV crowd, because Rutschman hasn’t been in every home game’s starting lineup. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. Hyde certainly hasn’t done everything with the MASN telecast in mind, as he’s also lined up a bullpen game for the pitching staff. There is nothing exciting about the prospect of a bullpen game.
Here’s how they will line up for the Orioles until the traditional spring training mass lineup changes occur later in the game:
- Cedric Mullins - CF
- Trey Mancini - 1B
- Anthony Santander - RF
- Maikel Franco - 3B
- Freddy Galvis - SS
- Austin Hays - LF
- Adley Rutschman - C
- Pat Valaika - DH
- Ramón Urías - 2B
There are nine days to go until Opening Day and this is not a very Opening Day-looking lineup. If Franco needs a little extra time to get ready for the season after signing late, it may be only five Opening Day starters are here. If Mullins and Hays won’t both be in the Opening Day lineup, there could be as few as four. So that’s... you know. Maybe seeing Rutschman will be worth enduring the rest.
Don’t worry too much about Franco as the cleanup hitter. That is likely just a way to squeeze in an extra plate appearance - although if that was the prime motivation then Hyde could just have Franco lead off.
César Valdez will be on the mound for the Orioles as the bullpen game gets going. He is expected to be followed by Dillon Tate, Travis Lakins, and Conner Greene. Perhaps there will also be others, as that doesn’t seem like enough pitchers to get through the game to me.
The Rays, uh... don’t seem to be sending their A team on the road to Sarasota today. The Fangraphs Roster Resource depth chart suggests there are two expected starters and two expected bench players of the below starting nine:
- Francisco Mejia - C
- Yoshitomo Tsutsugo - 1B
- Mike Brosseau - 3B
- Joey Wendle - SS
- Ryan Boldt - DH
- Tristan Gray - RF
- Moises Gomez - CF
- Brett Sullivan - LF
- Esteban Quiroz - 2B
Trevor Richards - also not a projected big leaguer - is starting the game for the Rays. So maybe not the most thrilling of matchups, even by what you can expect from the 2021 Orioles, but hopefully if you can watch, you can find something to enjoy.