SARASOTA, Fla. - Wise men say that only fools rush in, you should always expect the unexpected in spring training, don’t fall in love with a dreamer or exhibition numbers, and don’t underwrite an injury.
Also, beware of ballpark fish.
The Orioles’ 2022 camp gave us a lot to digest in a short period of time. Some storylines stretched until the end. Others were destroyed within hours and days.
I wondered about the rotation behind John Means and Jordan Lyles. So did the Orioles, who only confirmed Tyler Wells as a tandem starter until yesterday’s revelation that local product Bruce Zimmermann. would get the ball for the April 11 home opener.
The fifth spot remains as much a mystery as that fish.
Zimmermann will be the first Maryland native to start the home opener since Tommy Phoebus on April 10, 1968 at Memorial Stadium.
He’s a nice story. We like nice stories.
Speaking of Wells, I kept insisting to readers that I hadn’t heard anything regarding his switch to a starting role. I wasn’t lying. No one shared those plans until March, and it became one of the most interesting developments in Sarasota - because of the switch, and how it created uncertainty in the back end of the bullpen.
Also inside the bucket of surprises, at least for me, is Félix Bautista’s inclusion on the opening day roster. Being on the 40-man roster was a big advantage, but I thought he might go back down to Triple-A and keep working on his command to reduce the walks.
He’s a good story. We like good stories.
The Orioles indicated that they’d keep 15 pitchers on a 28-man roster that shrinks to 26 on May 2. Then came a curveball, with the fifth spot in the rotation TBD and creating a 14/14 split.
I got it right with Rougned Odor and Kelvin Gutiérrez, knowing that they’d break camp with the team. And that a left-handed hitting catcher was a preference, though Jacob Nottingham’s bat kept him in the running.
The Tanner Scott/Cole Sulser trade to the Marlins? Did not see it coming. Not when camp opened, not as it neared its conclusion, and not as I took the last sips of a drink - what kind and how many aren’t important here - closed out my tab and checked my phone before leaving with a pizza.
A slice of baseball life. News can break at any time, my friends.
The Orioles were file-and-trial with Trey Mancini until they weren’t, the inclusion of a mutual option in his contract with a $250,000 buyout softening the team’s stance on such matters. An unorthodox way to reduce the gap in proposals, but it worked. And it didn’t influence whether he’s traded.
Adley Rutschman strained his right triceps and lost the media’s attention over his chances of making the team. Heston Kjerstad injured his hamstring in an intrasquad game, preventing first glimpses of him as an extra from minor league camp.
Life isn’t fair, but it could go a little easier on the kid.
I wondered where Tyler Nevin would play. Mark him down as corner infield and outfield.
I wondered how Yusniel Diaz would look in camp, and he responded by impressing again. It’s a spring tradition.
His next trick is to do it in Triple-A and finally get promoted.
Would left-hander Paul Fry rediscover his command and confidence? It sure seems that way.
“I feel worlds of difference from where I felt last August and September,” he said. “I wasn’t in a good place mentally, and maybe a little physically, too. I was just off with my mechanics a little bit, but I feel back to myself and ready to show what I have shown in the past.”
Jorge López’s role has been revealed - sort of. He isn’t a starter, but appearances could be spread across games, including the ninth inning in save situations.
Would DL Hall arrive in good health and dazzle us? Yes and yes.
The elbow has healed, and the fastball is elite. He’s building up innings in Sarasota before returning to Double-A Bowie, and his major league debut is anticipated this summer.
The Orioles might need to dust off the “Come See the Kids” promotion from 2001.
Mike Baumann could be a starter or reliever. He’s on the team. That much we know.
A friend in the business teased me for referencing Cionel Pérez twice in one week - it might have been within two days - during the lockout. Like, who is this guy and why are you writing about him?
Pérez is a left-hander on the 40-man roster who’s going to be introduced on opening day.
I wasn’t positive in February that he’d make it, but keeping a third left-hander didn’t seem like an outrageous suggestion. And then came the Scott trade. You know the rest.
Spenser Watkins pitched twice in Grapefruit League games, most of his work done away from stadium fields. He impressed the Orioles. He impressed a scout from outside the organization who wanted to know more about him, saying Watkins easily could be a bullpen guy on his team.
The Orioles reassigned Watkins, but we may not have seen the last of him. Stay tuned.
He’s expected to be in St. Petersburg on the taxi squad.
I’m able to cross mediocre television play-by-play work off my bucket list.
There was a broadcast emergency and I handled 2 1/2 innings alone with no notes, no lineup sheet, no pronunciation guide - sorry Phillies - and no laptop. I didn’t cry. Score it a win.
The mask mandate inside clubhouses was a convenient way for me to hide a missing front tooth that can’t be replaced until June. My mother says no one notices my slurred speech. My mother also drinks.
(I was going to say she’s a saint, which is true, but the drink line is funnier.)
Ballpark security at the Yankees’ facility in Tampa needs to learn that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America card does, in fact, grant access to the press box. You do not need to walk all the way around to the back of the building and pick up a credential at, I believe it was called a “shed.”
Also, asking whether I have a problem with that isn’t going to bring out the best in me. Not proud of it. I’m a work in progress.
On a much lighter note, the parking situation in Dunedin is no longer a daily nightmare.
They finally got it right. No more promises that your name will be on the list, only to arrive and be told that your name isn’t on the list and there’s no media parking and why are you even here.
An area is reserved for the press, after our vehicles are given a complete physical, and the attendants are helpful and polite. I was pretty sure that one of them was going to adopt me.
If only there was a way to shorten the ride. But we’re out of miracles here.