Thoughts on the early going:
* The Orioles are getting good pitching from Jake Arrieta and Wei-Yin Chen, but the most impressive aspect of the Orioles’ start is their character. After getting swept in three games at home by the Yankees, the Orioles responded well on a road trip that took them to three time zones. They won series at Toronto and Chicago, and then managed to take one of three over the Angels after two late rallies in Sunday’s 3-2 10-inning win. Given how the Yankees have pounded the Orioles over the years, they could have folded on the trip. They didn’t, and that’s the mark of a team that believes it can win.
* This story should give hope to someone like the Orioles’ Chris Tillman: Philip Humber, 29, the White Sox’s No. 5 starter who threw a perfect game in Seattle over the weekend, was selected one pick after the Tigers’ Justin Verlander in the 2004 draft. It took Humber a while to find his mark in the majors. He was traded from the Mets to the Twins. He spent time in the Oakland system before the White Sox got him and moved him into the rotation. Humber has survived elbow surgery, two waiver claims and a line drive to the face. Tillman struggles, but at least he hasn’t had to switch organizations.
* When a team has too many pitchers, the problem usually takes care of itself. But, given how the Nationals’ rotation is dominating, what will they do when Chien-Ming Wang is ready to come off the disabled list? Wang was supposed to be the fifth starter, but an injury gave that spot to John Lannan, who then wound up at Triple-A in favor of Ross Detwiler. The Nationals, at the very least, are going to need Wang later in the season, so the question is how to keep him strong. Putting him in the bullpen doesn’t make sense, so could the Nationals have two starters in the minor leagues?
* Catcher Ivan Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star with an American League MVP, 10 Gold Gloves and 2,884 hits, is retiring. Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos grew up a fan of Pudge and got to play with him for two seasons in D.C. Ramos called Pudge to say thank you for all the catching instruction. “It was unbelievable to play with my childhood hero,’’ Ramos says. “I was in awe for a while, but he taught me so much about preparation, knowing the pitcher and knowing the opposing batter.’’ Pudge will likely go into the Hall of Fame as a Texas Ranger, even though he won a World Series title with the 2003 Florida Marlins.
* It is too early for Major League Baseball to be distributing All-Star ballots. Fans shouldn’t even be thinking of the All-Star Game, which will be played in July in Kansas City, until at least Memorial Day. At this point, would fans vote for Boston’s Ryan Sweeney (.390) to be an AL outfielder? And, would the AL’s Matt Harrison (3-0, 1.66) face either the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse (3-0, 0.99 ERA) or the Nats’ Ross Detwiler (2-0, 0.56).
* The case can be made that the Rangers could be 15-1 on top of the American League West. Their new closer, Joe Nathan, has one blown save and was the losing pitcher in another game to the White Sox. Nathan, though, has saved four of five games. So much for the hangover from losing a tough World Series. Nathan, by the way, spoke to the Rangers before the start of spring training, and told them that from the outside, the Rangers looked like the best team. Nathan told the Rangers that if they have fun and understand the bizarre nature of baseball, there should be no problem returning to the World Series
* The Red Sox last week celebrated the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. As historic as Fenway is - Babe Ruth pitched games there - I’d still rather watch a game in Chicago’s Wrigley Field. But it is a never-ending debate.
Thanks for reading.