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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Goodbye, spring training

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The Orioles broke camp after yesterday’s exhibition finale. Next stop: Boston, for the regular season opener. Hold on to your butts.

Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

They did it. The Orioles, and every other MLB team, finished a full spring training without incident, a feat that can no longer be taken for granted after 2020’s pandemic-destroyed spring. The Birds wrapped up their exhibition schedule with an 8-3 loss to the Rays in Sarasota yesterday. That gave them a final Grapefruit League mark of 10-17-1, which doesn’t look great, but few things are less important than spring training win-loss records.

The next time the Orioles are on the field, Thursday at Fenway Park, the games will count. Are you ready? Are the Orioles ready? There’s only one way to find out.

We’re getting closer to knowing what the Birds’ opening 26-man roster will look like in two days’ time. Brandon Hyde announced Monday that both Rule 5 picks, Tyler Wells and Mac Sceroler, will be on the team. It’s a surprise that both made the cut, especially Sceroler, who has never pitched above High-A, but the O’s seem intent on carrying a bunch of long-relief types of hurlers to help soak up innings as the schedule expands from 60 to 162 this year. This is the first time the Orioles have included two Rule 5 picks on the Opening Day roster since 2018, when the Dan Duquette-led Birds carried three: Nestor Cortes, Pedro Araujo, and Anthony Santander. (Well, one out of three ain’t bad.)

Wells and Sceroler join an expected nine-man bullpen that figures to have Tanner Scott, Paul Fry, Shawn Armstrong, Cesar Valdez, Adam Plutko, and Wade LeBlanc as locks, leaving one spot up for grabs between the likes of Dillon Tate, Cole Sulser, and Travis Lakins Sr.

Hyde also said infielders Pat Valaika and Ramon Urias have made the club, which essentially finalizes the 12 position players on the Opening Day roster. Those two will presumably share duties at second base, possibly with Rio Ruiz (who started at second yesterday and committed a throwing error), with Trey Mancini, Freddy Galvis, and Maikel Franco rounding out the infield; Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Santander in the outfield; Pedro Severino and Chance Sisco behind the plate; and Ryan Mountcastle playing some left field, first base, and DH.

Finally, the Orioles lined up their rotation, tabbing Jorge Lopez and Dean Kremer as their starting pitchers for games four and five, respectively, after the previously announced first three of John Means, Matt Harvey, and Bruce Zimmermann for the opening series in Boston.

Looking at the names on that expected roster, maybe some jump out at you in a positive way. Others...not so much. But like it or not, these are the guys with whom the O’s are heading into battle at the outset of the 2021 season.

Two days from now, it all begins.

Links

Trey Mancini beats cancer for triumphant return | Baltimore Orioles
The most exciting development from spring training, bar none: Trey Mancini is back with the Orioles, healthy and happy, looking like he hasn’t missed a beat. That’s all the more amazing considering the horrors he’s been through in the past year, which Joe Trezza recounts in this excellent piece.

Bruce Zimmermann on outing against Rays (O’s lose finale) - Steve Melewski
Melewski has the details of the Orioles’ spring finale, in which Zimmermann — who had pitched nine shutout innings entering the day — was blasted for seven runs, including three homers. Not exactly the ideal final tune-up for the Birds’ newly minted No. 3 starter.

Félix Hernández opts out of minor league contract with Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com
In case you missed it, the King Felix era in Baltimore is over before it began. He opted out of his deal with the Birds, becoming a free agent. If he couldn’t earn a starting job with the Orioles, I’m not sure there’s another one out there for him, but best of luck to Hernandez if he wants to continue his career.

As Opening Day Approaches, Baltimore Orioles’ Head Groundskeeper Nicole Sherry Reflects On Unique 2020 Season
While most of us were hunkering down at home during the height of the pandemic last year, Nicole Sherry was still at Camden Yards week after week, keeping the field in pristine condition. She’s the best in the business, folks.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Not a single Oriole, past or present, was born on March 30. Sorry.

The O’s have played just one regular season game on this date in their history. It happened two years ago at Yankee Stadium, when Brandon Hyde earned his first win as a major league manager with a 5-3 Birds victory. Nate Karns got the start, Mike Wright notched the save, and Jesus Sucre had three RBIs. Wait, are we sure this was a real game?