SARASOTA, Fla. – We have reached the final day of spring training. The Orioles play the Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium. The equipment is packed, the complex will empty after Tuesday morning’s workout, and the word “Publix” won’t be uttered again until next spring.
Also going away are the warm temperatures. The high in Boston for Thursday’s opener is 43 degrees, with a 70 percent chance of rain Saturday.
Baseball isn’t boring but it can get rude.
The sure things on the Opening Day roster also started to disappear, beginning with reliever Dillon Tate. His forearm strain is expected to keep him on the injured list until mid-to-late May.
Mychal Givens hasn’t been used in relief since March 16 and he limped off the mound only 10 pitches into yesterday’s simulated game, firing his glove against the dugout railing and venting verbally, as well. Couldn’t miss it.
(And then someone in the stands asked for his autograph, proving again that bad timing comes in many forms.)
Givens would need to make an extremely rapid recovery and face hitters again to avoid the IL. After what happened yesterday, it seems highly unlikely. That was a big setback.
A backup catcher competition didn’t exist until the last week. We joked about it, the boredom and utter lack of drama.
There was no such thing until James McCann experienced discomfort in his left oblique while swinging at a pitch last Monday.
“Left side” doesn’t sound as ominous, but it’s “oblique” and that’s never a quick healer.
The Orioles hope they caught it in time. Otherwise, McCann won’t be catching on the days that Adley Rutschman is off.
Anthony Bemboom made his first Opening Day roster last April and he might be starting a streak. The Orioles re-signed him in October, outrighted him off the 40-man roster in November and traded for McCann.
The writing was on the wall and then it got smeared.
Mark Kolozsvary arrived yesterday from the minor league complex because the Orioles were running short of catchers – and to give me one more shot at spelling his last name correctly. Bemboom is the favorite to replace McCann if the veteran goes on the injured list. Maverick Handley hasn’t played above Double-A and the Orioles reassigned Kolozsvary.
The club was quite transparent in its hopes and plans for Grayson Rodriguez. Put him in the rotation and take him to Boston. We heard it over the winter and at the Birdland Caravan. But now, who knows?
Is he still the No. 5 starter or did those three bad innings in his last three starts, plus Tyler Wells’ strong finish, blow up the projections?
Jorge Mateo played two innings in center field Friday night and started there yesterday. Read as much or as little into it as you want.
Could just be a way to prep Mateo for the season, when the Orioles might want to move him around rather than keep him tethered to shortstop. They have other options on the left side of the infield, in the majors and at Triple-A.
Or it could be linked to roster construction before Opening Day.
“A little bit of everything,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
“The more flexibility you can create with your roster, the better. It’s not like Jorgie’s never been out there before. We just want to kind of give him a look just in case it did happen in the season where we did need some coverage in center field.”
I’m wondering whether they’re contemplating ways to fit a left-handed hitting first baseman on the roster. Like, if they think they have ample coverage to back up in center. And if it could impact Ryan McKenna.
DL Hall was optioned yesterday to settle one debate. He isn’t a reliever on Opening Day. The Orioles stuck to their words.
Don’t mess with the development of a young starting pitcher just to fill a need in 2023.
Hall was used out of the bullpen after joining the expanded roster in September, but it was a pennant race and they made it clear that he’d return to starting this year.
We can’t dismiss the possibility of a player being claimed, signed or acquired via trade before Opening Day. It’s highly unusual to get through an entire spring training without a transaction. It’s so un-Orioles. They always do something while we’re down here.
They March to the beat of a different drummer. And you definitely saw what I did there.
Let’s see if the Orioles make the rest of their cuts, or come darn close, later this afternoon.
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