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Friday Bird Droppings: The Orioles are banged up already

The start of spring training wasn’t quite as warm and fuzzy as hoped, with injuries to key relievers putting a damper on the day.

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Felix Bautista’s 2022 season ended in injury, and his 2023 is starting the same way.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Yesterday marked the unofficial start of spring training, with the Sarasota complex open to the media for the first time and O’s pitchers and catchers participating in their first workout. Welcome back, baseball! The start of an exciting new season! It’s a time for joy and optimism aaaaaaaaaaaaand wait, it turns out half the bullpen is injured and everything is terrible and the Orioles are doomed. Welp. Better luck next year.

OK, maybe all hope isn’t lost just yet. But the expected good vibes of the day were dealt a rough blow when Mike Elias announced some unfortunate injury news regarding key O’s relievers. Right-hander Dillon Tate, coming off a breakout year as a setup man, won’t be ready for Opening Day after suffering a flexor strain last November. The injury cost Tate the chance to participate in the World Baseball Classic, but more unfortunately for Orioles fans, it’s expected to sideline him for at least the first month of the regular season.

Not only are the O’s down a setup guy, they might also be down a closer, as Félix Bautista is still recovering from knee and shoulder injuries he suffered in 2022 and will be slow-played at camp. It’s possible he won’t be ready for Opening Day, either. And lefty prospect DL Hall, expected to battle for either a rotation spot or relief role, has been slowed by lower lumbar discomfort. His status, too, is up in the air.

It’s not a great way to start the spring for a team that largely shied away from making meaningful roster additions this offseason. The club was banking on its internal roster depth being deep enough to propel the team into postseason contention. Now that depth is going to be tested early.

Perhaps the O’s can still cobble together a decent bullpen even if Tate and Bautista miss significant time. The third prong of the dynamic 2022 bullpen trio, Cionél Perez, appears to be healthy. The Birds brought back Mychal Givens to help out. Guys like Tyler Wells and Austin Voth could provide solid relief if they don’t make the rotation. And Elias left open the possibility of another relief pitcher signing (hey, Zack Britton threw a bullpen session for interested teams the other day — reunion, anyone?).

Oh well. It’s a long spring training. There will inevitably be other stuff to get bummed about...but hopefully a lot more stuff to get excited about. Let’s get this party started.


Orioles’ Elias discusses injuries to Tate, Bautista, Hall; Urías explains WBC omission -
Rich Dubroff has more about the Orioles’ early injuries, plus an explanation of why Ramon Urias won’t be in the WBC. It’s because of insurance. Ugh, bureaucracy, am I right?

Orioles open camp with optimism carried over from ‘22 -
Injuries aside, there was plenty of excitement and optimism at O’s camp yesterday, including the fact that they’re finally going to have a normal spring training with no COVID or lockout-related restrictions. I’d almost forgotten what it was like.

Spring notebook on contracts, playoff talk, early arrivals, new rules and more - School of Roch
Mike Elias covered a variety of topics with the media, including his and Brandon Hyde’s job status, saying that people are “going to have to get used to he and I here for a while.” I can get behind that.

Six Takeaways From Our Playoff Odds | FanGraphs Baseball
FanGraphs is not particularly optimistic about the Orioles’ postseason chances, but Ben Clemens writes that they have “the least certain outlook in baseball” and could easily end up better than anyone expects. Projection systems, it seems, never have and never will know what to make of the Orioles.

Keith Law on ‘the best and the deepest’ Orioles Top 20 prospects list - The Athletic
Dan Connolly interviews Law, who has nice things to say about Samuel Basallo, Aron Estrada, and the Orioles’ international efforts in general. I still can’t believe the Orioles just didn’t sign international prospects for, like, decades. Why were they so weird?

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Four ex-Orioles were born on this day: right-hander Scott Williamson (47), outfielders Mike Hart (65) and Willie Kirkland (84), and the late infielder Alan Wiggins (b. 1958, d. 1991).

On this day in 2003, 23-year-old O’s pitcher Steve Bechler tragically died, one day after collapsing of heat stroke at spring training. An autopsy revealed that his use of ephedra, a weight-loss supplement, was found to have contributed to his death, leading to a U.S. ban on the substance in all dietary products.