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Monday Bird Droppings: Where the starting rotation is taking shape

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Your top three Orioles starters are Means, Harvey, and Zimmermann. Who will join them? And does Mike Elias have any more tricks up his sleeve before the season starts?

Baltimore Orioles v Minnesota Twins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Happy Monday, Camden Chatters! We are so close to there being Orioles baseball on for us to enjoy again! I know we’re all excited now, but I wonder how long we’ll actually enjoy it? This Thursday is Opening Day, kicking off six months in which we’ll have Orioles baseball to keep us company almost every day.

I was just explaining to my daughter over the weekend that this is the plight of today’s Orioles fans. You spend the entire offseason waiting for baseball to return. Then it does and after a few weeks you’re like, “Eesh, this is terrible! How am I going to get through six months of this?”

Then the season ends and you start counting down the days to the next Opening Day. My three-year-old daughter, in case you were wondering, didn’t seem to care about any of this. But she was trapped at the dinner table with me so she had to listen.

If you took the weekend off from the Orioles, you missed a flurry of activity! First, the Orioles announced that they had signed Wade LeBlanc to a major league contract, just days after he opted out a minor-league deal. They sent Chris Davis to the 60-day injured list, further cementing my belief that we won’t see him at all this year.

And then they optioned Keegan Akin to triple-A. When spring training began, Akin was a presumptive member of the starting rotation. But he needs to work on a few things, according to Brandon Hyde.

Then the Orioles acquired pitcher Adam Plutko from Cleveland. It remains to be seen how Plutko will be used by the Orioles, he has hopped back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation in his career. To make room for Plutko on the roster, the Orioles designated Yolmer Sánchez for assignment.

This was surprising to many. Not because Sánchez is expected to be an outstanding player, but because the entire spring there hasn’t been a peep that anyone other than him would play second base. As to who will now? We’ll see. I honestly don’t think it really matters.

Finally, the starting rotation is coming together! Well, three-fifths of it anyway. John Means was named the Opening Day starter a little while ago, and this weekend Brandon Hyde named his number two and number three starters as well.

Late last week the Orioles added Matt Harvey to the roster, and this weekend Hyde confirmed that he’d be the number two starter. Matt Harvey! I wish him well. Yesterday, local prospect Bruce Zimmermann got the nod as the third starter in a surprise move. I wasn’t even sure he’d make the team in relief, and here is a starting pitcher. Hopefully he lasts a long time, or at least long enough so that his family can see him pitch at Camden Yards.

Starters four and five have yet to be named, but Hyde at least confirmed it would be a five-man rotation, not six. I assume the fourth starter will be Dean Kremer, but who knows with these Orioles.

And finally, there is still time to enter our pre-season contest! As of now we have 144 entries and we’re just waiting for yours. The contest closes on Wednesday at 11 p.m.

Links

Second baseman Yolmer Sánchez’s departure shows short-term fixes will make for long road to contending for Orioles | ANALYSIS - Baltimore Sun
In the wake of Sánchez being DFA’d, Jon Meoli focuses on the revolving door of infielders, none of whom have been able to say they’ll be part of the next good Orioles team.

Anthony Santander dealing with minor oblique issue - MLB.com
If you’ve been paying attention to the spring training box scores, you may have noticed that Anthony Santander hasn’t been there. It was revealed over the weekend that he has a “minor” oblique issue but should we ready for Opening Day. We’ll see!

Maryland native Bruce Zimmermann to serve as Orioles’ third starter in five-man rotation: ‘He’s pitched outstanding’ - Baltimore Sun
Everyone loves a local boy does good story! Bruce Zimmermann made his major league debut last season but was still considered a long shot to make the rotation in 2021. Well, he’s done it! It’ll be a tough task for him to be there all season long, but he has the chance. Click through to the article to read some nice quotes about Zimmermann by Brandon Hyde.

8 Red Sox in contact tracing after Barnes tests positive for COVID-19 - wcvb.com
Just in case you thought baseball would be safe from COVID in 2021, the Red Sox are currently dealing with it. Matt Barnes tested positive and will miss at least 10 days, including Opening Day against the Orioles. Eight un-named Red Sox are also quarantining and some could also miss Opening Day as well.

New Orioles' Hall of Famers Hardy, Devereaux say there's no place like Baltimore - BaltimoreBaseball.com
J.J. Hardy and Mike Devereaux talked to the media after the announcement that they'd be joining the Orioles Hall of Fame this summer. J.J. loves Baltimore and wants to get back into baseball one day, while Devereaux name drops a certain kid at a Yankees game who he still doesn't like.

Birthday and History

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have just one Orioles birthday buddy, Juan Bell. Juan Bell came to the Orioles in 1988 when he was traded for future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. Per his bio on SABR.org, big things were expected from Bell.

Tommy Lasorda predicted he’d play in the league for 15 years. Frank Robinson speculated he might take over for Cal Ripken at shortstop. That never worked out and after just a few games in 1989 and 1990, and 100 games in 1991, Bell was traded to the Phillies. He played in the majors for a few more years but was out of it altogether by 1995. Juan Bell passed away young, dying in 2016 at the age of 48 due to kidney failure.

There isn’t much Orioles-related history today, but here is a fun fact from this day in 1973. In an exhibition game between Oakland and Cleveland, a bright orange baseball was used. The ball was invented by A’s owner Charlie Finley with the idea that it would be easier to see. But everyone hated it. Sorry, Charlie.