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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the bubble players are making their case

The Orioles have a slew of roster decisions to make before Opening Day, and some candidates are making a strong early impression.

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore-born Bruce Zimmermann opened eyes yesterday in his bid for a roster spot.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The Orioles are on an upswing in their young Grapefruit League season, winning their second straight game yesterday in a six-inning contest, 6-3, over the Red Sox in Sarasota. If you were one of the 1,702 fans at Ed Smith Stadium yesterday who paid full admission to watch two-thirds of a regular baseball game, well, sorry about that. I guess that’s spring training for you. There are worse things than getting to enjoy some baseball in 71 degree weather, even an artificially truncated game.

We’re just five games into exhibition play, so it’s way too early to speculate about which roster-bubble players have helped or hurt their cases. Waaay too early. It would be ridiculous to do so.

That said, let’s speculate about which roster-bubble players have helped or hurt their cases.

Yesterday’s most impressive pitching performance came from 26-year-old Bruce Zimmermann, the Baltimore-born lefty who made his big league debut with two appearances last season. Zimmermann has an outside shot at a back-end rotation spot or a long relief job, and performances like yesterday’s — in which he retired six of the seven batters he faced, four on strikeouts, in two scoreless frames — will certainly keep him in the conversation. Also flashing the goods was utility infield candidate Ramon Urias, whose three-run homer in the fifth snapped a three-all tie.

Cedric Mullins continued to rake, contributing an RBI double for his fourth hit in nine at-bats. (His main competition for the center field job, Austin Hays, has been just as hot so far, going 4-for-5 with a home run in two games.)

On the negative side, Dean Kremer struggled through his spring debut yesterday, having to get pulled out of a first-inning jam with two runs of damage, then returning for the second — because rules don’t matter in spring training — and surrendering a homer. Kremer’s fellow Manny Machado trade acquisition, Yusniel Diaz, has also gone cold. After an 0-for-3 showing yesterday, Diaz is hitless in six at-bats since his Sunday home run, stalling the Diaz hype train at the station.

The Birds are back in action this afternoon against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, with Matt Harvey making his O’s debut. The game isn’t being broadcast on TV or radio, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.


Urías homers as late substitute in 6-3 win - School of Roch
Yesterday’s hero, Urias, wasn’t even supposed to start, but filled in when Freddy Galvis reported a sore hip. I’d say Urias has earned a few intentional starts now.

Dean Kremer on his outing today (O's beat Boston) - Steve Melewski
Kremer said he was focused more on getting reacclimated to a game setting than on his results, which is fine. There’s a lot of spring left, and nothing really matters until the lights come on in April.

Oriole camp impressions 4 weeks from Opening Day -
Rich Dubroff notes that John Means is lined up to be the Opening Day starter, even if Brandon Hyde hasn’t made it official yet. Considering the last two years’ scheduled Opening Day starters both ended up getting scratched with injuries, maybe Hyde is trying not to jinx anything.

Orioles CEO John Angelos reiterates team’s commitment to Baltimore in radio interview: ‘It will never move’ - Baltimore Sun
The Orioles have been in Baltimore for 66 years, and ownership insists they “will be here for 66 more or longer.” You heard it here first: the Orioles are going to relocate in 2087. Better collect all your O’s gear now, while you still can.

Tyler Nevin on father Phil Nevin's influence -
Tyler Nevin grew up immersed in baseball as the son of longtime big league slugger Phil Nevin. I wonder if his dad told him about the time the Orioles tried to trade Sidney Ponson for him. I’d probably skip that story if I were Phil.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! It’s the 42nd birthday of Erik Bedard, known for being the Birds’ ace for a couple seasons but better known for being the reason the O’s got Adam Jones. Other former Orioles born on this date are former fourth overall draft pick Jeffrey Hammonds and 2000-01 righty Jose Mercedes, both of whom turn the big 5-0 today, and three-game outfielder L.J. Hoes, who turns 31.

On this day in 1996, Orioles legend Earl Weaver was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee, a fitting conclusion for an extraordinary managerial career in which Weaver won nearly 1,500 games and led the Birds to four World Series, bringing home the 1970 championship. Earl got word of his election while on the golf course, per the Washington Post. “When I heard the news, my knees got weak and my body got weak. I could hardly hold a golf club,” he said. (He won the round anyway.)