Leftovers for breakfast before opening day

SARASOTA, Fla. - Opening day finally has arrived for the Orioles. They made it through the lockout, a camp cut short and yesterday's workout at Tropicana Field. The 28-man roster is set. A lineup is going to be posted later this morning, with first pitch at 3:10 p.m. before a sellout crowd.

The Orioles will load up their lineup with right-handed hitters against Rays left-hander and Baltimore native Shane McClanahan. The order is fuzzy beyond Cedric Mullins, but I'm assuming that it will include Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Robinson Chirinos, Kelvin Gutiérrez, Ramón Urías and Jorge Mateo if his hand is completely healed. Chris Owings also is an infield possibility.

Last year's opener in Boston was pushed back a day by rain. This year's opener was supposed to be played March 31 against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, followed by trips to Boston and St. Petersburg.

The delay in getting a new collective bargaining agreement necessitated a revised schedule, but no one will be thinking about it after Mullins gets in the box.

OK, maybe a few of you.

The Orioles will funnel more of their prospects onto the major league roster as the season moves along. The anticipation is going to overshadow a lot of what happens on the field.

Maybe the progress made since the rebuild started will be reflected, at least a little, in the record. Not just the farm system rankings.

"Look, we're in the American League East, we have four teams that won 90 games last year, we recognize what we're up against to even sneak into a playoff spot this year. That's going to be very challenging," executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said on yesterday's video call.

"We want to continue to see our individual young players show progress, show health, and continue to have the picture clarify for what the next playoff roster for this team is going to look like. And I think the more pointed message to our guys this year is, we want these guys to seize this opportunity. John Means has done it, Cedric Mullins has done it, Mountcastle. There's a few more. I'll miss people. But it's a very important year for a lot of the guys on this major league roster and there's going to be a ton of opportunity for these guys, but the competition is getting greater.

"This is a team I believe is very close to getting back in the fight, and I think that's saying a lot, given where we were initiating and what we've had to do to build."

* One of the easiest calls in camp was Chirinos starting behind the plate on opening day. He wasn't competing for a job. He was getting ready for the season.

A starter until he becomes the backup to Adley Rutschman.

Manager Brandon Hyde appreciated the experience that Chirinos offered, and a professional approach that aided in his bonding with a new pitching staff.

"There's no doubt, for me, it does help," Hyde said.

"I saw Robinson back in 2007. I think especially someone like him and like Chris that have been a part of winning teams, on different teams, just kind of their journey to get here. When you play as long as Robinson has, you're doing something right and that you're not just a good player, but you're also really good in the clubhouse. It's really, really easy to see right now already how influential he's going to be, just because of his experience. Just a great guy and willing to lend a hand with anything. So, really excited to have him with us."

* As long as we're talking about leadership, Mancini sees it in Means and Mullins, who willingly are thrust into roles that might be delayed on other teams with a heavier veteran influence.

"Just the way that they've grown," Mancini said. "I think they both show it in the way that they play, the way they go about their business every day. They're just extreme professionals and they're two guys that a lot of other people look up to here, and it's great to see that.

"It's strange seeing guys decently younger than me kind of be like that leader and it's really cool to see, so they've been doing a great job."

* Kyle Stowers didn't play again yesterday while Triple-A Norfolk was losing to Charlotte 13-7 in 10 innings. Stowers was hit on the wrist in the Tides' opener after doubling against the shift and drawing a walk, leaving the game for precautionary reasons and beginning his day-to-day status.

Stowers went 2-for-21 with two walks and nine strikeouts in exhibition games before the Orioles reassigned him. Nothing to be concerned about. He's a top 10 prospect and co-Minor League Player of the Year in the organization for a reason, and the countdown is on to his arrival at Camden Yards this summer.

"I thought it was a great experience for him," Hyde said. "It was good for him, his first major league camp. I tried to give him as many at-bats as possible. I think he showed great athleticism. I loved the way he played defense. He's obviously got huge power. Now, it's about getting Triple-A at-bats and understanding the speed in the major leagues and putting up numbers in Triple-A. But I think he's got a high ceiling."

* A fan asked why the Orioles traded Mason McCoy for cash, considering that the amount can't be that significant. Why bother?

It isn't about the money.

This is the period when teams release or trade minor league players to create roster spots.

McCoy is an impressive defender, but he's 27 and seven of the organization's top 20 prospects are middle infielders.

And that doesn't include Jahmai Jones, Leandro Arias and Adam Hall.

The trade could create a broader path for McCoy to reach the majors. Good for him. And the Orioles got something for him, whatever the amount.

* The minor league rosters released over the past few days included infielder Cadyn Grenier, who's back at Norfolk after appearing in five games last summer. He played in 108 at Double-A Bowie.

Grenier started at shortstop yesterday and went 0-for-3 with an RBI from the bottom of the order. He also was charged with an error in the 10th inning for interference.

The Orioles made Grenier the 37th overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Oregon State University. The glove remains ahead of the bat.

We didn't see him in an exhibition game. He wasn't an extra. I'm not reading anything into it, but I'm surprised he didn't make an appearance.

* Left-hander Alexander Wells allowed only one hit yesterday in four scoreless innings.

Jones had three more hits after going 2-for-4 the previous night and 1-for-4 in the opener.

Yusniel Diaz hit two home runs and had four RBIs. The bat didn't cool after he left Florida.

Diaz's three-run shot tied the game in the seventh, but Charlotte scored six runs off David Lebron in the 10th, five of them earned. Former Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. reached on a fielder's choice leading off the inning and former Orioles catcher Nick Ciuffo followed with an RBI single.

Catcher Chris Hudgins was used in emergency relief and got the last two outs on a line drive double play.

* What happened to pitcher Tommy Wilson?

The Orioles acquired him from the Mariners for cash considerations after the Triple-A Rule 5 draft, but he didn't appear on a break-camp roster.

Wilson, the son of "Back to the Future" actor Thomas F. Wilson, is being kept back in Sarasota for now, in case you were wondering. Or if you weren't. That's why he didn't join an affiliate.

The right-hander posted a 2.35 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and .182 average against in 10 relief appearances this summer with Double-A Binghamton, striking out 18 batters in 15 1/3 innings.

* An agreement with veteran pitcher Matt Harvey on a minor league deal should become official today.

Harvey will work out in Sarasota and keep building up his arm and innings while waiting to find out whether he'll be suspended for his February testimony in the trial of former Angels communications director Eric Kay.

Kay faces a prison sentence of at least 20 years for distributing drugs to Tyler Skaggs, which led to the pitcher's death in 2019.

ESPN reported that Harvey could be handed a suspension of at least 60 days after admitting to his own drug use and sharing Percocet pills with Skaggs.

The Orioles are choosing to judge Harvey on his season spent with them. Hyde has praised him for being a leader on the team and pitching through adverse conditions, including the mounting losses, defensive breakdowns behind him and a knee injury.

 

 

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