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Friday Bird Droppings: Grayson finishes a shaky spring training

The Orioles’ top pitching prospect, with another uninspiring outing last night, hasn’t exactly secured his spot on the Opening Day roster.

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Baltimore Orioles v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

We are now just six days away from the start of the regular season. Today is the final Friday without a regular season Orioles game until...well, next week, because the O’s and Red Sox have an off day after Thursday’s opener. But then there are no more Fridays without O’s baseball until...uh, the week after that, because there’s another off day after the Birds’ home opener April 6. But then! The Orioles play for 25 consecutive Fridays until the end of the season. Unless there are rainouts. Look, people, my point is that real baseball is almost here.

In the meantime, the fake baseball has been quite entertaining. Last night in Grapefruit League action, the Orioles played the first of three consecutive evening games, and it ended in an 8-8 tie with the Tigers. It was a great night for the O’s offense, which pounded out 16 hits, including three more from Ryan Mountcastle, who is hitting .425 this spring. Jorge Mateo lashed an RBI triple as part of a two-hit game, and non-roster invitee Daz Cameron homered and doubled. And a hearty welcome back to Cedric Mullins, who returned from his WBC stint with Team USA to crush a three-run homer.

The night wasn’t as fun for starter Grayson Rodriguez, who continued his rather uninspiring spring. Oh, don’t get me wrong — Rodriguez, at times, has certainly flashed the overpowering stuff that has made him baseball’s best pitching prospect, and there’s every reason to think he’s got a bright future in the bigs. But he hasn’t exactly put together a strong, start-to-finish outing at any point this spring. Yesterday, after opening the game with two excellent innings, Rodriguez got cuffed around in the third, giving up a five-run rally that was capped by a Nick Maton three-run homer. He worked four innings in all, striking out five and walking none, but that rough inning inflated Grayson’s spring ERA to 7.04.

It continued a discouraging trend for Rodriguez, who in his two previous outings also opened strong — three scoreless on March 12, two scoreless March 18 — only to lose his way as the game progressed. He ended up allowing four runs in the former outing and five (though only two earned) in the latter. The Orioles surely would’ve liked to stretch him out to a five-inning start at some point, but his struggles made it unfeasible.

With only four games left this spring, Rodriguez won’t pitch again in exhibition play. So now what? It’s been assumed all along that the O’s intend to break camp with Rodriguez part of their season-opening rotation. Is that still the case, or might his rocky spring alter that plan? Could a return to Triple-A Norfolk be in the cards, at least for a little while? I’d be content to just put him in the Orioles Opening Day rotation and let him take his lumps while he adjusts to the bigs, but we’ll see if the O’s front office has other ideas.

There’s tons of tantalizing talent in that right arm of Rodriguez’s. We just might need to wait patiently for it to arrive.


Rodriguez struggles in third before strong finish, Mullins homers in return, Orioles and Tigers tie 8-8 - School of Roch
Ramón Urías was a late scratch from the lineup because of a bruised thumb, and not, as I had suspected, because of a trade. My dreams of a late-spring Corbin Burnes deal will have to wait at least one more day.

O’s farm hurler Daniel Federman on his WBC experience and scoreless inning - Steve Melewski
The minor league righty, who has never pitched above High-A ball, pitched a perfect WBC inning against three batters with major league experience. Not too shabby!

Taking a look at Orioles’ bullpen choices -
With Dillon Tate and now Mychal Givens probably IL-bound to start the season, the Orioles’ bullpen is suddenly looking less than stellar. With all due respect to Bryan Baker, who had a great second half last year, I don’t have total confidence in him as the primary right-handed setup guy.

What a World Baseball Classic ‘USA Dream Team’ could look like in 2026 - The Athletic
Stephen J. Nesbitt put together a hypothetical American roster for the 2026 WBC, and his starting catcher is exactly who you’d think it is.

Farm system rankings 2023 preseason -
Another day, another honor for the Orioles’ spectacular farm system, which ranks as the best in baseball by MLB Pipeline. This is fun!

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Two players from the earliest Orioles era were born on this day: first baseman Dick Kryhoski (b. 1925, d. 2007), who played for the inaugural 1954 club, and right-hander Saul Rogovin (b. 1922, d. 1995), who joined the Birds a year later in 1955.

There haven’t been many notable events on March 24 for the Orioles, who are usually in the closing stretch of spring training on this date. The best I can offer you is that on this day in 2014, the Orioles acquired utility man Steve Lombardozzi from the Tigers for veteran infielder Alex Gonzalez. Lombardozzi had Maryland ties — he attended Atholton High School in Columbia, the only student from that school ever to play in MLB — but made little impact for the Orioles, posting a .626 OPS in 20 games.