Sampling of questions as Orioles' first spring training workout approaches

SARASOTA, Fla. – Temperatures at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota are expected to reach the 70s again today. Sunscreen is readily available in the baseball operations building and the athletic trainers’ carts during workouts, and also in the dugout once exhibition games begin.

Can’t block out the excitement that comes with the first official day of pitchers and catchers spreading out on the back fields and in the bullpen area.

Optimism also is running high for a club that posted the best record in the American League last year. It’s time to defend the division title.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias will meet the press later this morning, which presents another opportunity for a health check.

Not Elias’, since we’re assuming that he’s fine.

Back at the Birdland Caravan, Elias said closer Félix Bautista remained the only Orioles assured of missing games in 2024.

“Fingers crossed right now,” Elias said. “Hope the baseball gods aren’t listening to me say that. … I’m sure that will evolve. We haven’t even started spring training yet.”

Well, it’s starting. Are there any changes?

Elias can calm fans about Bautista’s follow-up procedure last week, a right elbow debridement and ulnar nerve transposition that doesn’t impact his timeline to return in 2025.

Bautista updated his recovery from Tommy John surgery at the opening of the Dominican Republic academy, but only a couple of reporters attended. He’ll say that he feels good and can talk about last week’s procedure and how he wants to pitch near the end of the 2024 season if he’s cleared to do it.

The Orioles aren’t putting him on the active roster before 2025.

Is Elias done with the roster or could he add more pitching? One report had the Orioles expressing interest in a reunion with Aaron Hicks before he signed with the Angels, but I didn’t see how there was room for an outfielder on a major league deal.

Then, the Orioles traded for outfielder Peyton Burdick.

A big difference is that Burdick has two minor league options and seems ticketed for Triple-A. But Elias is collecting outfielders like my grandmother’s figurines. He’s up to nine on the 40-man roster.

The spring training invites also bring questions. Any notable absences, including Terrin Vavra, should be addressed.

Interesting, too, that Daniel Johnson is the only outfielder among the 20 players. The Orioles signed him to a minor league deal on Jan. 23 after his prospect status faded with the Nationals and Guardians.

I’m also curious about the massive changes on Double-A Bowie’s staff, with a different manager, pitching coach and hitting coach. What prompted those moves?

Last month’s Birdland Caravan lessened the need for certain questions asked to certain players. John Means, Dillon Tate, Bruce Zimmermann and Keegan Akin already talked about their health. Tyler Wells and Cole Irvin already talked about their uncertain roles Manager Brandon Hyde and many of his players already talked about the bitter taste of the Division Series sweep.

Corbin Burnes and Craig Kimbrel were made available on video calls but will draw crowds at their lockers. Other pitchers in the room can offer their opinions.

Players who didn’t attend the Caravan included Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Yennier Cano and Jackson Holliday. DL Hall was a late scratch and then traded to the Brewers.

Coincidence, I’m sure.

Does Holliday think he can break camp with the team? Let’s ask him several times.

James McCann spoke to the media at the Winter Meetings and the Caravan, but the Burnes trade is a fresh topic for teammates.

Jorge Mateo was supposed to attend the D.R. ceremony but didn’t make it, and he wasn’t at the Caravan. Time to talk.

Ryan O’Hearn also missed the Caravan, and being the last arbitration-eligible player to sign, which enabled him to avoid a hearing, could come up. Also, is he approaching this camp differently than last spring, when he didn’t make the club as a non-roster invite?

My guess is he’s going to say that he never makes assumptions about his job security. He’s here to compete, not to simply get ready.

Tyler Nevin is back in the organization and on the 40-man roster. How does he view his chances of playing in Baltimore on Opening Day?

Kyle Stowers made the club last spring but limited at-bats and multiple injuries ruined his roll. How does he view his chances of playing in Baltimore on Opening Day?

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