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Saturday Bird Droppings: The final weekend of spring

Gibson starts the opener, Gunnar’s ROY competition, and the continued search for a backup at first.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Birdland!

Spring Training wraps up on Monday, making this the final weekend without Orioles baseball games that matter for quite some time. The anticipation is palpable!

There are still a few jobs yet to be determined on the O’s roster to begin the year. We can get into those momentarily, but one that has been called is Opening Day starter. That honor goes to Kyle Gibson, the veteran righty that the team handed a $10 million deal over the winter.

Gibson as the team’s “ace” to open the year is a boring yet understandable decision. After all, he was signed to be the stabilizing force and show the young guys “how it’s done.” He wasn’t very good for the Phillies last year, but he was an all star in 2021, so the potential is there to be solid. That said, if Gibson ends up as the staff ace all year long, that would make me think the others around him have had a tough time.

As for what still needs to be determine, there is a laundry list.

  • The fifth starter - Assuming Dean Kremer, Cole Irvin, and Kyle Bradish line up behind Gibson, and the Orioles go with a typical five-man set up, that leaves one spot. Grayson Rodriguez appears to be the favorite, but his last start was rough and he will be on an innings limit.
  • Infield bench spot - Jordan Westburg remains in camp, taking part in just about every game the Orioles play, and spending time at second, short, and third. Plus, he’s playing well! That certainly puts the squeeze on Terrin Vavra, who is also having a nice spring.
  • Left-handed first baseman - This role on the more general “infield bench” spot do appear to be mutually exclusive. There just isn’t room for both if the Orioles also want a backup catcher (they do!) and two spots for outfield alternatives, like Ryan McKenna and Kyle Stowers. But the team seems intent on having a backup option behind Ryan Mountcastle, so who knows.
  • Bullpen - This is the one area where injuries have popped up in the preseason. We know Dillon Tate will open the year on the IL, and Mychal Givens might join him. That could mean two of the fringy or young arms heads north with the team. That includes Rule 5 pick Andrew Politi, Logan Gillaspie, Mike Baumann, and others.

It’s honestly a rather mundane list of competitions. The lineup, in general, is settled. The rotation isn’t overly exciting, but it has a baseline of expectation of being serviceable. And the bullpen, we hope, can repeat its 2022 form with largely the same crew.

It feels pretty good to head into the season with a modicum of certainty. There is plenty of opportunity for it to all come crumbling down, but for now we can enter the summer with a level of excitement that hasn’t been possible for several years now.


American League Rookie of the Year: Ranking favorites and dark horses, led by Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson | CBS Sports
It’s time to start sizing up Gunnar Henderson’s competition for Rookie of the Year. Two of them might even be his teammates by year’s end.

Kyle Gibson is coming off a down season. The Orioles’ defense could help him bounce back. | The Baltimore Sun
Gibson is getting a pretty big upgrade in moving from the Phillies defense to the Orioles. But he won’t get nearly as much offensive support.

Cordero, Lester and O’Hearn keep the competition cranked | Roch Kubatko
Why does it feel like Franchy Cordero is going to make this team? He’s had a strong spring at the plate, and he’s been a big leaguer in six different seasons, not to mention the physical skills he possesses. But he’s also 28 years old and never really performed in MLB. Do those sorts of people change? No, they never do. I mean, these teams somehow delude themselves into thinking they might, might work for the Orioles.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • The late Woodie Held (b. 1932, d. 2009) was born on this day. He spent 14 years in the big leagues, including a two-season stint with the O’s from 1966-67.

This day in O’s history

It’s been a slow day in Orioles history, according to Baseball Reference. But here a few things that have happening outside of Birdland:

421 - Venice, Italy is founded

1655 - Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is discovered by Christiaan Huygens.

1948 - The first successful tornado forecast predicts a tornado will hit in Oklahoma.

1965 - Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists complete their four-day, 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

1979 - Columbia, the first fully functional Space Shuttle orbiter, is delivered to JFK Space Center for launch.