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Friday Bird Droppings: The O’s bats are staying hot

The O’s have been scoring runs aplenty in spring training of late. Save some of that offense for the regular season!

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MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Baltimore Orioles
Austin Hays bashed his team-leading fourth home run yesterday.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

We’re now less than a fortnight away from the start of the regular season, which begins March 30 in Boston, 13 days from today. Between then and now, the O’s will need to pare their current spring roster of 51 players down to their season-opening 26. And a bunch of hitters on the bubble are trying to make those decisions as difficult as possible.

Non-roster outfielder/first baseman Franchy Cordero put up another sizzling performance in yesterday’s 7-4 Grapefruit League win over the Blue Jays in Sarasota. Cordero went 3-for-3, including a pair of doubles, to improve his spring batting average to .538 and OPS to 1.538 in 10 games. Still, he’s not the only backup first base candidate to tear the cover off the ball this spring. Non-roster infielder Josh Lester, who singled in his only at-bat yesterday, is putting up a .406/.441/.656 line that includes 13 hits, second most on the team to Cordero’s 14. Another contender, Ryan O’Hearn, was 9-for-19 before getting sidelined with a knee injury. And the guy they might all be chasing for that final bench spot, Terrin Vavra, is hitting .409/.417/.727. The competition is intense.

It’s not only the guys fighting for a spot who are hitting well. Austin Hays swatted his team-leading fourth home run yesterday. Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle are off to hot starts. Outfield prospects Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser have impressed, the former with his power (three dingers) and the latter with his patience (11 walks in 33 PAs).

The O’s lineup as a whole, no matter which players are part of it on any given day, has been clicking of late. The Orioles have scored five or more runs in 12 consecutive games. Obviously that doesn’t mean much of anything until the games count and the O’s are facing better competition, but let’s hope they can keep the good hitting vibes going.


Irvin pleased with latest start, Cordero collects three more hits, Hall pitches in simulated game (O's win 7-4) - School of Roch
A cynic might note that the Blue Jays’ lineup yesterday didn’t include a single player who’s even likely to be on their Opening Day roster, let alone any regulars, so of course Cole Irvin pitched well. Still, it’s better than if he had pitched poorly.

Q&A with Cole ‘Swirvin’ Irvin: Talking baseball history, memorabilia, motorsports - The Athletic
Speaking of Cole Irvin, he seems to be a delightful person, based on this interview with Dan Connolly. He’d be fun to hang out with if I enjoyed being social.

Ten most interesting Orioles prospects to follow throughout minor leagues in 2023 – Baltimore Sun
Even with Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, and (soon enough) Grayson Rodriguez all in the majors, there’s no shortage of intriguing O’s prospects to track this year. The Sun’s Jacob Calvin Meyer somehow manages to narrow it down to 10.

Strong spring impression: Heston Kjerstad has been raking under the Florida sun - Steve Melewski
Kjerstad’s strong spring is made all the more impressive by the fact that, as Melewski points out, he went 27 months between games before his June pro debut last year. He’s more than making up for lost time.

Who will make Orioles’ Opening Day roster? -
Jake Rill offers his projected 26-man season-opening O’s roster, and I have to say it’s exactly the same 26 I would have picked. Great minds think alike, and so does mine.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 37th birthday to Chris Davis, who hopefully is enjoying retirement a lot more than he enjoyed the last three or four seasons of his career. Davis last played in 2020, but his ill-fated, seven-year contract with the Birds would have just ended this offseason had he seen it all the way through. Other former Orioles with March 17 birthdays are “Dead Fish” offspeed specialist César Valdez (38) and catcher Raúl Chávez (50).

Two years ago on this date, the O’s abandoned their previously announced plans to start certain weeknight home games at 6:35, officially changing the game times back to 7:05. This season, the Orioles will again try the 6:35 plan; all weeknight home games before Memorial Day and after Labor Day will start at that time. Combine those early start times with the pitch clock-induced faster games and you could well have O’s games that are finished before 9 PM some nights. I like it.