The Orioles are now eight games into the 2014 season and have a record of 3-5. However, the team is on a high after a great win over the Yankees on Tuesday. Prior to that, there seemed to be a lack of spark and many rallies were being killed by poor baserunning and poor pitch selection. Thankfully, it's only the early days of a new season and it could have been worse. There's also the encouraging thought of Manny Machado's future return, which will likely be later this month.
Of the 25 players who have made an appearance for the Orioles since the season commenced, seven are new faces in 2014 and they've experienced mixed results thus far individually.
Ubaldo Jimenez: When the O's signed Jimenez, there was obviously a hope that he would resume the form with which he finished the 2013 season - a 4-0 record and a 1.09 ERA in September. In his two starts thus far, he's given up four earned runs in six innings against the Red Sox and four more earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings against the Yankees. Consistency and control have been Jimenez's issue, having allowed 22 baserunners (nine walks) in his 10 2/3 innings of work.
Ryan Webb: Webb's start to the 2014 was unimpressive, however his most recent outing against the Yankees on Monday showed signs of improvement. Prior to joining the Orioles, he worked to a 3.34 ERA in 184 appearances with the Marlins and a 3.19 ERA in 82 appearances with the Padres. As an Oriole, he's allowed four earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings. It's early, but stepping up in the tough American League East is expected. His four strikeouts show he has the ability to fool hitters; he just needs to improve his level of consistency.
Evan Meek: Due to injury and a loss of form, the 2010 All-Star threw just 32 2/3 major league innings in 2011 and 2012 combined before spending the entire 2013 season in the minor leagues. His revival during spring training was impressive and his start to the 2014 regular season has continued on a positive note. In three appearances (three innings), Meek hasn't allowed a run and has proven himself a valuable addition to the O's often overworked bullpen.
Steve Lombardozzi: Lombardozzi joined the Orioles very late in spring training, coming in a trade five days before the regular season commenced. Initially expected to provide a backup option behind Ryan Flaherty and Manny Machado, Lombardozzi has impressed during his first week in
David Lough: Lough has had a slow start to his time at
Nelson Cruz: Touted as a fantastic signing for the Orioles, Cruz has started the new season quite well. He homered in his first two games with the Birds and having now played all eight games, he is hitting .286 (8-for-28) with the two home runs and six RBIs. There were some initial doubts over his role in the outfield, but he has also made some impressive plays thus far, especially in the opening series against the Red Sox.
Delmon Young: Young had a limited amount of playing time in his first week as an Oriole, but thanks for a good performance on Tuesday, he is now hitting .333 (4-for-12). He's a proven performer with almost 1,000 games of major league experience, and I expect him to bolster the O's lineup as the weeks progress and he's called upon more often.
Despite the mixed performances thus far, hopes remain high that the seven recruits can play their part in helping the Orioles push for a return to the postseason in 2014. The rest of April will provide even more challenges with the tough schedule and I'm interested to see how these seven perform.
Daniel Clark blogs about the Orioles at The Big Leagues Daily from Melbourne, Australia. Follow him on Twitter: @TBLDaily. His thoughts on the O's appear here as part of MASNsports.com's continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.