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Friday Bird Droppings: The exhibition opener is on its way

The Orioles announced their pitchers for tomorrow’s Grapefruit League debut, and it’s not exactly a star-studded affair.

Spring Training
Soon we’ll see Adley Rutschman and the gang back in competitive games (that don’t count).
Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

We’re 34 days away from Opening Day, which isn’t a ton, but isn’t nothing, either. It’s still a bit of a wait. But if you’re jonesing for some (kinda) competitive baseball, the Orioles will begin their Grapefruit League slate of exhibition games tomorrow, hosting the Twins at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota at 1:05. Finally, a real (fake) baseball game!

If you were expecting the Birds to burst out of the gate with their projected Opening Day lineup, you’re, uh, going to be disappointed. This early in the spring, with an overstuffed camp roster of 71 players, you’re going to be seeing a lot of the minor leaguers and anonymous non-roster invitees while the actual big leaguers slowly ramp up.

Don’t believe me? Here, I’ve created a photo gallery of the seven pitchers the Orioles have announced will be throwing in tomorrow’s opener. Take a scroll through and tell me how many you can name:

If you correctly identified even one of those players, you fared better than I would have. If you correctly identified two or more, you’re just a liar.

The answers, of course: Drew Rom, Eduard Bazardo, Wandisson Charles, Cole Uvila, Chris Vallimont, Ofreidy Gómez, and Morgan McSweeney. I mean, obviously.

So, yeah, it’s probably best not to read anything into these early-spring games. These aren’t the players who will make or break the Orioles’ fortunes once the regular season rolls around. For now, let’s just enjoy having baseball back in our lives and start counting the days until the games actually count.


Rom starting first exhibition game - School of Roch
I joke, but Drew Rom, for one, thinks it’s cool that he gets to start the Grapefruit League opener, and he’s determined to make his MLB debut this season. I’ll be pulling for him to succeed where fellow soft-tossing lefties like Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells couldn’t.

Westburg, Ortiz think their time with Orioles is coming soon - Baltimore Baseball
The Orioles of a half-decade ago wouldn’t have had two big-league-ready prospects as good as Ortiz and Westburg, and certainly wouldn’t have had so much infield talent in the majors that they’d be blocked. It’s a good problem to have.

Brandon Hyde keeps talking up the the Orioles’ prospects. That feels different from years past. - Maximizing Playoff Odds
You were expecting the Orioles manager to be immune to the prospect hype? As if!

After chaotic offseason, Díaz eyes O’s roster spot -
Poor Lewin Díaz briefly spent time with four different organizations this offseason, including the Orioles twice, before finally escaping his DFA purgatory. Now he hopes to win a spot with the Orioles...where hopefully he won’t immediately be DFA’d again.

Orioles remove ‘The Sun’ and Dempsey’s signs from Camden Yards - Baltimore Sun
The iconic “The Sun” sign has been removed from the Oriole Park scoreboard, which is a bummer. Without the flashing “H” or “E,” how will fans know the official scorer’s ruling on tough plays? ... Oh, right, literally everyone has a phone.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 67th birthday to the one and only Eddie Murray, the Orioles legend and baseball Hall of Famer. Murray, the former AL Rookie of the Year and seven-time O’s All-Star, is among the top three Orioles hitters all-time in every major offensive category. He still pops in with the Orioles every now and again, and in fact he’ll be a guest instructor at O’s camp in about two weeks. Say it with me now: Ed-die! Ed-die!

Other former Orioles celebrating their birthdays today are catchers Chance Sisco (28) and Gustavo Molina (41) and outfielder Chris Parmelee (35). Their names are not nearly as chant-worthy as Eddie’s, though.

On this day in 2014, the Orioles made one of the best one-year free agent signings in club history, inking outfielder Nelson Cruz to an $8 million deal. The signing was met with skepticism at the time — the 33-year-old Cruz was coming off a 50-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal — but it paid huge dividends. The slugger crushed an MLB-leading 40 homers and collected 108 RBIs in an All-Star season for the Birds, leading them to the AL East pennant. The O’s let him walk after the season, thinking he was too old for a four-year deal. It’s now nine years later and the 42-year-old Cruz is still playing, signing with the Padres this winter.

And on this date in 2016, the O’s made a much less successful signing, inking right-hander Yovani Gallardo to a two-year contract with a team option for a third. The Birds had initially agreed with Gallardo to a guaranteed three-year deal with an option before seeing something concerning in the physical that led to a restructured contract. In any case, the O’s ultimately put up with only one terrible year of Gallardo — a 5.42 ERA season in 23 starts — before dumping him off on the Mariners in a trade.