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Weekend Bird Droppings: The final weekend of spring training

Just a few days remain for the O’s to make tweaks ahead of Opening Day, but at least it is setting up to be an intriguing year.

MLB: MAR 28 Spring Training - Orioles at Phillies Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

Barring any catastrophic worldwide event—something we are all too familiar with at this point—this will be the final weekend without regular season baseball for quite some time. Even as a fan of a team that is probably going to be pretty bad, that makes me happy.

These next few days will likely see the Orioles trim down the roster once more and begin to make looks more like the real deal. That starts today as John Means heads to the hill for his final spring tuneup prior to taking the mound on Opening Day. The southpaw went three innings in his previous outing. Expect him to stretch a bit further this time.

The biggest bit of business will be cutting rosters down to their mandated 28-man size. There remains some ambiguity to what the Orioles will do there. While there are obvious locks, there are even more question marks. Rougned Odor might be the starting second baseman, or he might be DFA’d. Trey Mancini could see time at first base, DH, either of the corner outfield spots, or he might be traded. And don’t even get started on the pitching situation.

Things are so uncertain on the pitching side that a rumor circulated on Friday that the Orioles are contemplating a return of Matt Harvey. That would be a move that is difficult to understand or defend.

Harvey was awful last season. He pitched only 127.2 innings, gave up tons of hard contact, and struggled to miss bats. If the Orioles were interested in reclamation projects there are other, better options.

More seriously, Harvey testified over the winter that he had distributed opioids to Tyler Skaggs prior to the pitcher’s death and admitted to cocaine use. I hope that Harvey has been able to seek help and work past what sounds like a serious drug habit. It is speculated that Harvey may receive a 60-game suspension if/when he signs with a team.

It just does not make any sense for the Orioles to bring back Harvey. He is worse than several of the pitchers they have in house, and he wouldn’t do much to help “eat” innings anyway. I would much prefer to see more of the several intriguing young arms that are at or near the big leagues already.

Links

10 top prospects who could debut for the Orioles in 2022 | The Baltimore Sun
All signs point to this being a massive season for the Orioles’ youngsters. It’s easy enough to make an argument that at the very least Adley Rutschman and Kyle Bradish should earn promotions right away. And it is a good bet that Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall will dice up competition once given the chance. It won’t happen in one fell swoop, but things should be looking a lot rosier in Baltimore by the end of the summer.

Notes: Lyles stretched out; prospects play 9 | MLB.com
Jordan Lyles has had a nice spring, or at least he has pitched a fine eight innings in the Grapefruit League. Now, his big league track record would suggest that he will not be very good once the regular season rolls around, but he will still be a step up from some of the mound work we came to know last year.

How the Orioles’ starter gambit with Tyler Wells could foretell the future of their pitching program | Maximizing Playoff Odds (Jon Meoli)
I was beating the “use openers more often” drum last year. It is a solution that just makes too much sense to ignore when you lack traditional big league starters. The Orioles have talent on their staff, but they often push them outside of what is likely to be a successful scenario for them. Not to be too bold, but they should stop doing that. Let’s see if it goes beyond piggybacking Tyler Wells with a left-handed counterpart.

Crazy camp can’t keep Orioles from getting ready for opening day | School of Roch
It’s tough to be too dissatisfied with the Orioles’ performance as a team this spring. They have won games, some important players like Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle, and Ramón Urías have looked really good, and the prospects have seen some time on the field. That’s all you could really ask for, especially in an odd year.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Koji Uehara turns 47 this weekend. His major league career began in 2009 as a 34-year-old, following a successful run in Japan. The reliever spent parts of three seasons in Baltimore from ‘09 until mid-2011, when he was dealt to the Texas Rangers in the trade that sent Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to the Orioles.
  • Pete Incaviglia is 58. The outfielder played in 60 games for the Orioles between 1996 and ‘97.
  • The late Gordon Jones (d. 1994) was born on this day in 1930. His Birdland career spanned two seasons, from 1960 through ‘61. He pitched in 32 games, totaling a 4.50 ERA.
  • Art Ceccarelli (1930-2012) was an O’s pitcher for 20 games in 1957. He never won a game and allowed 29 earned runs over 58 innings of work.
  • Bobby Avila (1924-2004) spent 20 games on the Orioles infield during the 1959 season, a campaign that saw him also appear in games for the Red Sox and the then-Milwaukee Braves.

This weekend in O’s history

1960 - The O’s send infielder Bill Gardner to the Washington Senators in exchange for catcher Clint Courtney.

1976 - A big trade between the Orioles and Athletics lands outfielder Reggie Jackson, pitcher Ken Holtzman, and minor league Bill VanBommell in Baltimore while Don Baylor, Mike Torrez, and Paul Mitchell head to Oakland.

1997 - Jimmy Key moves his record on Opening Day to 7-0 after making his debut with the Orioles. The lefty had previously won three as a Yankee and three as a Blue Jay.

2011 - Zach Britton makes his major league debut, allowing one run on three hits and six strikeouts over six innings.