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Wednesday afternoon Orioles game thread: vs. Rays, 1:05

Opening Day is nine days away. Until then, it’s Grapefruit League time. The Orioles are on MASN this afternoon.

MLB: MAR 24 Spring Training - Red Sox at Orioles
Baltimore’s own Bruce Zimmermann gets the start in a rare spring televised game.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Since the start of Grapefruit League games, the Orioles have deployed a number of starting lineups where you could say, “That looks pretty close to an Opening Day lineup,” with maybe six or seven players who figure to be in that first lineup. One way you know that Opening Day is creeping up on us is that today’s lineup is the first one of spring where you can look at it and say, “That could be the exact Orioles Opening Day lineup.”

As a nice bonus for any Orioles fans who are able to get some free time to themselves this afternoon, MASN is actually bothering to televise this contest. They are not bothering to send the broadcasters to Sarasota, however. It’s their next-to-last broadcast of spring training; the next one is two days from today, on Friday. So those who tune in today are probably going to see something that’s pretty close to this and maybe even exactly this in the Opening Day lineup.

There aren’t any guys who are ticketed for the minor leagues here. There’s not anyone who looks like a big league backup. These could be the guys nine days from now. It may not be a coincidence that we are first seeing this lineup in a game against the Rays, who the O’s will play to start the season on April 8. How excited you are at the prospect of this group probably determines how excited you are for the start of the season.

This set of guys doesn’t lack for some interesting storylines around them - or interesting for Orioles fans, anyway. Can Cedric Mullins follow up on his breakout season with anything close to as great performance? Will Ryan Mountcastle suffer a sophomore slump after leading rookies with 33 home runs? Can Anthony Santander finally have both a healthy and good full season? Is Trey Mancini going to have a better season now that he’s a year farther out from his cancer treatment? How will the new left field fence at Camden Yards affect Austin Hays?

Although I feel like the Orioles are not going to be any good again, I’m not so worried about the answers to these questions being mostly negative. They might have an interesting lineup! What they probably won’t have is anything other than a horrible pitching staff. But maybe some guys will be able to surprise us, including today’s starter, Baltimore’s own Bruce Zimmermann. He had a 5.04 ERA over 14 games before getting hurt last season.

That’s not good by any stretch, but it’s close enough to acceptable that a slight improvement would make him a perfectly cromulent guy in the back of a rotation. I don’t have high hopes, although I’ll be rooting for the best anyway.

Orioles lineup

  1. Cedric Mullins - CF
  2. Ryan Mountcastle - 1B
  3. Anthony Santander - RF
  4. Trey Mancini - DH
  5. Austin Hays - LF
  6. Rougned Odor - 2B
  7. Ramón Urías - 3B
  8. Jorge Mateo - SS
  9. Robinson Chirinos - C

Your guess is as good as mine how many innings the team will try to get out of Zimmermann in what’s probably his next-to-last spring outing.

One more comment on whether this is the exact Opening Day roster. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reminds us all that Odor could still end up as only a platoon player, in which case he’s not going to start against Baltimore’s own Shane McClanahan, already named the Rays Opening Day starter. McClanahan is a lefty thrower, Odor a lefty batter.

It’s also possible Odor will just be released if the team is unimpressed with him. This has happened with an Orioles infielder I assumed had a lock on a roster spot as recently as last year, when the team dumped Yolmer Sanchez very late in spring training.

Rays lineup

The Rays lineup is, uh, not looking like a Rays Opening Day 2022 lineup.

  1. Josh Lowe - RF
  2. Harold Ramirez - LF
  3. Luke Raley - CF
  4. Ryon Healy - 1B
  5. Francisco Mejía - C
  6. Taylor Walls - SS
  7. Curtis Mead - 3B
  8. Miles Mastrobuoni - 2B
  9. Diego Infante - DH

The starting pitcher for the Rays is Josh Fleming.