Bird Talk: Spring training, Santana rumors, fantasy tips and more

As we in Baltimore are preparing for yet another snow storm, I have some news that could warm your heart.

Four words: Pitchers and catchers report.

That’s right, ladies and gentleman, baseball will officially be back in our lives tomorrow.

In case you missed what others have said about the Birds nationally over the last week:

* For The Win’s Ted Berg gives fans five things to watch at Orioles spring training. The top thing, to no surprise, is third baseman Manny Machado’s progress back from offseason knee surgery. Berg also believes Kevin Gausman will make an impact on the Orioles rotation if the team does not sign a veteran starter. Finally, Berg said to keep an eye on Adam Jones’ Instagram. Warning: I just looked at his page and I’m already hungry.

* Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, the Orioles are interested in a veteran starting pitcher. The flavor of the week is former Royals right-hander Ervin Santana. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Santana is choosing between the Orioles and American League East rival Blue Jays. With pitchers and catchers reporting tomorrow, this may be something to keep an eye on. Will the Birds be willing to surrender the 17th overall pick in next year’s draft to get Santana? That’s the (multi-)million dollar question.

* We all are familiar with Baltimore’s Iron Man, but very few are aware of the Orioles’ “Pump Iron Man.” Who is that? Orioles former trainer Tim Bishop. Bishop now owns and operates Perform Fit, a gym in Cockeysville. The gym includes batting cages and trainers with real-world experience performing at high levels of competition. Bishop’s gym specializes in training baseball and lacrosse players. For more information, click here.

* David Gonos of gives his 2014 fantasy outlook for the Orioles. Gonos lists Tommy Hunter as his sleeper and expects Nick Markakis to have a breakout season. Gonos also says to keep an eye on Chris Davis and Chris Tillman. Over at The Sporting News, Matt Lutovsky takes a deeper look at the O’s uncertain closer situation and how it will impact fantasy baseball owners.

* We’ve all seen several top prospect lists over the last several weeks, but I have one more for you. SB Nation’s John Sickels compiled his own list. Sickels lists the top 20 Orioles prospects. To no one’s surprise, Gausman and Dylan Bundy top the list. He says the Orioles system is “middle of the pack,” but believes their pitching depth is “intriguing.” Sickels also believes the Orioles’ biggest need for improvement is the offensive production from its young hitters.

* Finally, I’ll leave you with a somewhat political story for the week. Don’t worry, it’s nothing too controversial. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin is backing a bill favoring conservation of migratory birds, including the Baltimore oriole. Apparently, the bill favors the hobby of bird watching.

That’s a wrap for this week’s Bird Talk. This time next week, we’ll be almost one week into spring training.

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