Mailbag leftovers for breakfast

The interest in the Orioles can’t always be confined to one mailbag entry. There’s some spillover that must be cleaned up.

Think of this space as aisle 5.

Here’s the remainder, along with a reminder that my mailbag parts ways amicably and yours is fired.

Where is Félix Bautista rehabbing?
I’m told he’s rehabbing at the spring training complex in Sarasota, but he’ll be in the Dominican Republic for Tuesday’s unveiling of the new state-of-the-art academy.

Are there any MLB teams not linked to a trade for Dylan Cease?
I like how you emphasized “MLB.” Just to be clear that you weren’t referring to the Northwoods League. It isn’t every team in the majors, but it’s more than a half-dozen, right? And yes, the Orioles are talking to the White Sox about him. Why is this treated like breaking news? And are they reportedly the “favorites” simply because they have the most prospects to offer?

If Cease is signed, will you put a cease and desist order on making puns with his name?
I see what you did there.

Should the Orioles hold onto their young talent and trade Anthony Santander at the deadline for more talent?
I wouldn’t be in a rush to trade Santander, but there’s the obvious temptation if the return is a top starter. He’s heading into his free-agent season and the Orioles aren’t running short of right fielders. He’s a trade chip. All the stuff you’ve read and heard. But if they’re contending as expected at the deadline, would you really want to move him and risk weakening the lineup? The amount of young talent in the system is designed to directly help the big league club or be packaged in a trade for the final piece of the puzzle. If it’s me, and it isn’t, I don’t move Santander unless, gasp, my team is sinking to the bottom at the deadline and in full seller mode.

What is one piece of memorabilia you own that really means something to you?
I still have the program from Game 2 of the 1971 World Series at Memorial Stadium. The first game I ever attended. It was rained out on Sunday and rescheduled for the following day. I missed school and hung out with my father, my hero. Still one of the greatest days of my life. And last year, a friend who knows that story gave me a ticket from that exact game. I have it displayed with the program. (I hope you all have a friend like that.)

Who is an under-the-radar prospect that you can see making the team out of spring training?
Right now, none. Any prospect who could head north is on the radar. But I’d like to hear some examples of anyone I might be missing. Fire away.

Any update on an assistant pitching coach?
This also has the look and feel of a leftover. The Orioles announced yesterday that they promoted Mitch Plassmeyer from minor league pitching coordinator. 

Got any questions for James McCann at the Birdland Caravan, since he’s a late sub for DL Hall?
McCann was available in a media scrum at the Winter Meetings. I don’t know if there’s anything left, but it never hurts to check on health and if the offseason workouts have changed. Whether he thinks the Orioles can win more than 101 games.

Who has the best sense of humor player-wise on the Orioles? Caleb Joseph has to be up there as a former player, but what about the current bunch?
Joseph for sure. Matt Wieters had a very underrated sense of humor. He once watched an outfielder take a bad route to a ball before making the catch, returned to the dugout and asked who had the joystick that controlled the guy. Buck Showalter walked down the tunnel so no one would see him laughing. The players are around each other a lot more than I am and are more qualified to answer. Maybe I should take a poll. Thanks for the story idea. But you wouldn’t be wrong to assume guys like Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Tyler Wells, Cole Irvin, Gunnar Henderson, Colton Cowser, Ryan McKenna, John Means, Ryan O’Hearn, Ryan Mountcastle, DL Hall, Danny Coulombe and Adley Rutschman (though not in interviews). That’s just off the top of my head. It’s a fun group.

The O's always seem to find a diamond in the rough for the bullpen. Who do you think could emerge as a quality 'pen piece this season?
I’ll just toss out Jonathan Heasley’s name because he’s on the 40-man roster, he doesn’t bring much fanfare, and you pressed me to choose.  

Who gets more at-bats from an outfield position this season, Heston Kjerstad or Colton Cowser?
Wow, that’s tough. You eliminated DH. If I can only pick one to break camp with the team, I’d go with Kjerstad, but I wouldn’t be floored if Cowser is in Baltimore on March 28. Kjerstad probably gets more at-bats as the DH between the two of them. But Cowser has to be on the roster. OK, I’m saying Cowser because he’s better defensively.

I know this gets asked frequently, but is there a real estimate on when the Dominican Academy is going to open? Hopefully, we're close at this point, right?
This really is a leftover. I was prepared to respond with, “Yes. Very close. It’s all good.” But the Orioles announced yesterday that they’re hosting an opening ceremony on Tuesday morning. It’s done.  

What is your "earworm" song? And if me asking that question just made it start rolling through your head, my apologies.
Anything my wife sings in the morning while getting ready for work. And lately it’s been hella Taylor Swift.

Assuming no trade happens in the offseason or deadline, which players need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft next offseason?
Infielder Errol Robinson, signed to a minor league contract earlier this week. But also Connor Norby, Coby Mayo, Chayce McDermott, Cade Povich, Justin Armbruester, John Rhodes, Billy Cook and Carter Baumler, to name a few.

Brandon Hyde and Buck Britton both won Manager of the Year. How long do you think Buck will stay where he is? If he's in line to manage the Orioles someday, is it better for him to stay managing at Norfolk or to "graduate" to, say, bench coach in the meantime?
The Orioles aren’t keeping the seat warm for Britton. He’s hugely important to them in his current role and they’re hugely happy with Hyde. Maybe Britton gets promoted someday to the major league coaching staff. Maybe another team comes calling. He has the look of a future manager. Highly respected in the industry.

What sort of questions do players like to be asked? I assume they don’t get so excited when you ask them about their strained groin. How do you get them to say something that’s not cliché?
They really hate being asked about their groins when they have a shoulder injury. I’ve found that some players like non-baseball questions. You can see them light up when given the chance to talk about their family, hobbies, whatever. Others are uncomfortable with that and want to stick to baseball. Know your audience. As for the clichés, some of it depends on the player. Many of them try to avoid clichés unless they fit the point that’s being made. Otherwise, a reporter can learn how to phrase a question that elicits a usable response. Like, if a player tends to offer “yes” or “no” answers as if filling out a survey, avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions. Make them expand a little.

Who gets more at-bats from an infield position this season, Joey Ortiz or Connor Norby?
You again? I’m saying Ortiz because I think he’s on the roster before Norby based on playing more positions. What happens to Norby is one of my bigger curiosities. He had a great 2023 but is mainly a second baseman. What’s next?

Roch, did you play baseball as a youngster? If so, what position?
Wherever they needed to put the slowest kid.

Will John Means be on an innings limit or will he be off the leash? Same question for DL Hall.
I don’t think Means needs to be coddled because he’s back to full health. You’re careful with everyone early, but the Orioles should be able to turn him loose. Hall is a different story because of his limited experience in the majors and past health issues. We don’t even know his role and how much that influences it.

Besides spending time with the family, what is your favorite offseason thing to do?
Not go to the airport. Also, binging programs that are streaming. Loved “The Crown,” for instance, and that surprised me. Not my usual taste. The offseason also makes it easier to work out. I’m not a prisoner to clubhouse times. Just having my life back. Not having it dictated and driven by a baseball team.

One year later, Trevor Bauer appears beyond his serious legal trouble, and he did just complete a decent year playing in Japan. Bauer recently expressed interest in returning to MLB, although I question whether he'd get past the Orioles "character" threshold. Between 0 and 100 percent, where would you place his odds of playing for the O's?
I don’t know everything that goes on behind closed Orioles doors, but I haven’t heard about any interest. Maybe. I’ll wait for a legitimate member of the media to confirm before I react. I’m sure he wants to get back to the majors. I suggest that fans who think there was only one accuser and that he’s proven innocent do their homework. The Orioles always do and then make their own decisions based on their information and comfort level. We’ll see what happens.

Nearly half of the MLB teams now display sponsor patches on the uniforms. An even higher number of teams play in stadiums bearing sponsored naming rights. Will this be the year either of those two steps happen in Baltimore as a way to bring the team additional revenue?
The new lease agreement grants permission to sell the naming rights to Camden Yards. It could be done one of these years. That’s the best answer I can give you.

Which sponsor would be ideal for Baltimore?
Old Bay or Natty Boh. Unless one of the establishments on The Block wants to get involved in the bidding. Imagine the possibilities for the clock above the scoreboard. Anyway, this is probably a good place to stop.

Legs instead of hands?
This is definitely a good place to stop.

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