Odds and ends as spring training is winding down

A few odds and ends as there are now just a few spring games left. An odd number of five actually and that will be the end of spring training in 2024.

We are all about ready for a new season to start at this point.

Rookie fav: We don’t even know for sure yet whether the Orioles Jackson Holliday will be on the Opening Day roster. But according to DraftKings Sportsbook, he is the favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award:

* O’s Jackson Holliday at +250.

* Texas’ Evan Carter at +300.

* Texas’ Wyatt Langford at +400.

* Tampa Bay’s Junior Caminero at +800.

* Detroit’s Colt Keith at +1000.

Other O’s are listed as well with Colton Cowser (+2000), Heston Kjerstad (+2200) and Coby Mayo (+3000).

Opening Day pitchers: When right-hander Corbin Burnes takes the ball on Opening Day March 28 at Camden Yards for the Orioles against the Los Angeles Angels, Burnes will be one of four Opening Day pitchers making a debut for their new teams.

He is joined by one that already pitched when the Dodgers Tyler Glasnow debuted for his new team on Wednesday in the Seoul Series versus San Diego. Others are Frankie Montas pitching for Cincinnati against Washington and Alex Wood pitching for Oakland against Cleveland.

Burnes will become the third O’s pitcher in five seasons to make his Baltimore debut with a start on Opening Day, joining Tommy Milone (2020) and Kyle Gibson (2023).

The O’s will face the Angels' Patrick Sandoval for Game 1, who will make his first career Opening Day start. The 27-year-old left-hander, in his sixth MLB season, all with the Angels, will become the first southpaw to make the OD start for the Angels since Andrew Heaney in 2020.

Sandoval went 7-13 with a 4.11 ERA last year over 144 2/3 innings. In three career starts against Baltimore, he is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA, allowing 11 walks and 20 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings with an OPS against of .584.

More kids are playing ball: According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) Topline Participation Report for 2023, baseball participation is at nearly 16.7 million in the United States. That is the highest officially recorded level since SFIA’s survey of more than 120 sports began in 2008.

The report also noted that softball participation grew by nearly 500,000, a +6% increase from the previous year. Plus, baseball and softball combined, saw a larger percentage increase of participation (+7.6%) over basketball (+5.6%) and football (+3.6%).

Combined participation in baseball and softball is at approximately 25.3 million, which is the highest level since 2018. In the most recent U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report by SFIA (2022), baseball had the highest participation numbers among boys, ages 6-12. Baseball and softball, combined, also had the highest participation that same year among boys and girls, ages 6-12.

They scored 13 runs again: For the second straight spring game, the Orioles won and scored 13 runs. They beat Philadelphia 13-4 at Ed Smith Stadium as Anthony Santander hit a three-run homer, Ryan O'Hearn hit a solo shot and Gunnar Henderson blasted a two-run shot. Jorge Mateo went 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

The Orioles improved the best spring record of all 30 teams to 20-5-2.

They have now scored 164 runs in 27 games (6.1 per game) to lead all 30 clubs in spring games. They rank second in homers with 42, fourth in slugging at .461 and fifth in team OPS at .806.

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