Because You Asked - Fresh Meat

SARASOTA, Fla. – The time has come to march into a new month with a spring training mailbag.

(March. You see what I did there.)

This is the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original. So many have been published that there’s no reason to go over the format, rules and disdain for tinkering with style, clarity, length, brevity or anything else.

Also, and this is real important, my mailbag relaxes underneath an umbrella at the Siesta Key beach and your mailbag sells warm beers in a brown paper bag. (I may have bought one.)

In the little bit I've read about Corbin Burnes, it seems like he does things a certain way - his way. Based upon his success it seems to be working, but does this come across as leadership or a bit pompous?
I haven’t heard a single harsh word about Burnes from anyone. Quite the opposite. Teammates have the upmost respect for him, including how he goes about his work and prepares for the season. Guys with his experience and resume know how to get ready for Opening Day. They don’t need a helicopter parent.

Coby Mayo has been playing just about every day. Is his Opening Day candidacy improving with every hit and good at-bat?
It ain’t hurtin’. I still think he goes down to Triple-A again because there isn’t an obvious spot for him with the Orioles wanting Gunnar Henderson to play shortstop and third base, and Jordan Westburg second and third base. The club is impressed with the gains he’s made defensively but also want him playing every day. Hard for it to happen in the majors right now. But he’s impressed manager Brandon Hyde and the coaching staff as much as anyone in camp. It’s easy to see why he might be untouchable in trade talks.

What percentage shot do you think Jackson Holliday has of making the OD roster?
Is 50-50 a cop-out? I feel like, and some others agreed, that the odds took a little bit of a hit with the Kolten Wong signing. Wong is a left-handed hitting second baseman with a couple Gold Gloves in his trophy case. If he looks good over these last three weeks or so, the Orioles could send down Holliday for more Triple-A seasoning and, you know delay his clock from starting. It also would allow him to play more second base, where he’s working to get more comfortable. It isn’t the same as shortstop. But Holliday has put together some really good at-bats lately and flashes the talent that makes him baseball’s No. 1 prospect. Man, he’s totally living up to the hype. You can see it.

If you randomly go to a restaurant and see a player, do you ignore him, give a recognition nod and nothing more, or do walk over and try to join them?
I have the waitress send over my check.

That’s your answer?
Oh good, we’re conversational. The second one. A nod, a wave. I’d never try to join them. Many years ago, a young pitcher who later became an All-Star in another organization sat one table over from me at a sushi restaurant in Sarasota and we exchanged waves. He left, and when I tried to get the check from my waitress, she said he already took care of it. A very nice and unexpected gesture. But it also was a little awkward because I cover the team. He didn’t have any ulterior motives, like more favorable press. He was just being nice, and he made a lot more money than me. But I would have politely declined if I knew ahead of time.

If Kyle Bradish and John Means are out of the rotation in April, who has the best chance of making it to push Tyler Wells to the bully?
Let’s begin by agreeing never to use “bully” again. I’m anti-bullying in many ways. OK, now that we got that out of the way, Julio Teheran could be the guy. Let’s see how he does in camp. He’s got to earn a job first, and retiring all three batters he faced Saturday was encouraging.

We are four weeks away from Opening Day. Who's your dark horse to make the team?
I don’t know if there’s anyone who qualifies. Guess we need a ruling from the judge on criteria. A few beat writers had outfielder Sam Hilliard on their Opening Day roster and he’s been put on waivers and claimed by the Rockies. I never thought he’d beat out all the other left-handed hitting outfield candidates. I could go with left-handed reliever Andrew Suárez, but I’m not ready to commit. Right now, I don’t see anyone who’s way outside the box.

Who will get more at bats with the O's this season, Coby Mayo or Connor Norby?
Good one. They’d be on the Opening Day roster in past years, but there’s so much talent now coming from the No. 1 farm system in baseball that they might be forced to stay in Triple-A for a while. I’ll say Mayo but don’t ask how there’s going to be room.

Why Wong?
Kolten Wong is a left-handed hitting second baseman with two Gold Gloves and bragging rights as a Silver Slugger finalist. He isn’t that far removed from being a productive player. He’s an option if the Orioles decided to put Jackson Holliday’s debut on hold.

Besides yourself, who else from MASN in down in Sarasota?
Steve Melewski arrived Friday and I flew back home the next morning to see my granddaughter. I return today, but he’s handling most of the notes and game coverage until Saturday. We have an off-day Thursday.

With over 60 guys in camp, does the team offer a joint meal or does everyone go out on their own every night?
The cafeteria provides meals, but players tend to go out for dinner, with so many restaurant choices. Many of them have families here.

Both Teheran and Wong are on the opening day roster: Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
(Sweat rolling down my face). Agree. But I’m not putting money on it, OK? You can't make me.

Do you ever get concerned that people will read our comments when your stories are linked from somewhere else?
I want everyone to see the comment total, and they can scan at their own risk. But yeah, they should skip a few of you (I kid).

Whose bat is making the most noise on the practice fields? And don’t say, “your mom’s.”
I’d never! Lots of them. Coby Mayo, Heston Kjerstad, Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman. Just to name the four obvious players.

Apologies as this is probably the millionth time this has been asked, but with the status of Kyle Bradish up in the air, do you think the Orioles do some wheeling and dealing over the next few weeks to add to the rotation?
We’re not counting Teheran? I don’t think there’s gonna be a big-time free agent walking through that door, but Mike Elias is always looking for pitching. There could be an uptick in urgency if the Bradish injury takes a really nasty turn, but for the short term, they seem pretty happy with their depth.

Other than Ed Smith Stadium, what's your favorite spring training ballpark?
I love the 20-minute drive to Bradenton and literally nothing else. Worst press box, really sketchy media parking – a small field with tall grass and evidence of people living there at night. I feel bad for intruding. The Phillies complex in Clearwater is first-rate, and that’s especially true of their lunch room. Best spread anywhere. But it ain’t worth the drive. I can find a good meal much closer to my hotel. But you’re just talking ballpark, so yeah, BayCare Ballpark. Also, the Twins and Red Sox ballparks in Fort Myers. You were smart to say, “other than Ed Smith Stadium,” because it’s No. 1.

What do you think when people refer to Oriole Park at Camden Yards as "Camden"?
Better than “the Yards.” It’s singular despite the full name. I make the rules.

With all the pumpkin jokes about the new uniforms, has there been any discussion regarding toning them down? And are the players’ wives happy about the new pants?
Are we still talking about the uniforms? Photos posted on the former Twitter show that the pants were just as “transparent” on past spring training Photo Days. I don’t think there’s gonna be any toning down of the orange. My concern is a plane might land on a player. Gives a new meaning to “taxi squad.” Cause planes taxi down the runway.

Got it. Does John Means get into any games as a long reliever, or do the O's keep him rehabbing until he's stretched out enough to start?
John Means is expected to jump into the rotation as soon as he’s activated. He won't make any Grapefruit League starts, according to Brandon Hyde. There’s also the possibility that he’s eased in by building up innings in the ‘pen, but that’s what rehab assignments are for.

Any relatively unknown relievers really impress you as a possible breakout piece this year?
Can they be unknown to me? Cause Matt Krook looked good when I saw him. I can’t say there’s anyone who’s “unknown” and fits the criteria.

Was there ever interest in Domingo Germán?
Never. Despite reports to the contrary.

There's not enough 26-man spots for all the talent we currently have. Who do you have getting disappointed with a Triple-A assignment to start the season? Holliday, Norby, Mayo, Kjerstad, Cowser?
Norby and Mayo are the most likely to be reassigned to minor league camp. That’s as far as I can go right now. Hold on, I’m having prom night flashbacks.

Would the Orioles consider going with Mayo, Cowser and Holliday, and jettisoning McKenna and either Urias or Mateo in the process?
It isn’t completely out of the question, but I don’t see that exact scenario playing out.

Have the O's had any discussions with Jordan Montgomery on a deal similar to Cody Bellinger's with opt-outs?
I would be surprised. Floored, actually.

Where’s Kyle Moore, who managed Double-A Bowie the last two years?
He got a bench coach job in the Cubs’ system.

What are chances that Mike Elias signs Trevor Bauer to a deal with the O's?
Wouldn’t it have happened by now if the Orioles wanted him? I don’t think Bauer’s ducking them. Teams are passing.

Have there been any conversations with Trevor Bauer’s camp? He’s interested and willing to pitch for the minimum. Seems like a decent add while we figure out what’s happening long-term with Bradish.
If there have been conversations, it’s the best-kept secret in baseball. Yeah, he’s interested and willing, but there’s undeniable baggage. You can Google it. Let's get educated here. Anyway, I’m not aware of any conversations.

Cowser or Stowers. Who ya got?
Can I have both? They're in beast mode, whether facing lefties or righties, and they can play center field, which is huge. Not sure an Opening Day roster with five natural outfielders can fit both because they bat from the left side. Then again, it's not like they're platoon-type players.  OK, now I'm rambling. What the Orioles do with them, and the other outfield candidates is gonna be real, real interesting.

The O’s now have both a Colton and a Kolten. Should we expect the addition of a Coltin, Koltyn or Colt’n anytime soon?
If there’s a Col-tun, he’s headed to Sarasota. And this is probably a good place to stop.

Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong? Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop? Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip?
It’s official: This is definitely a good place to stop.

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