SARASOTA, Fla. - We’ve reached the end of the Grapefruit League schedule. That light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t an oncoming train, though I still feel like I got run over by one.
Today’s game against the Braves at Ed Smith Stadium may also close out the exhibition schedule if it rains Friday night in Philadelphia.
I’m not a meteorologist despite the mistaken assumption by some fans. I have no idea if they’ll play. I only know that colleague Steve Melewski is handling it while I fly back to Baltimore and reintroduce myself to my daughter.
Hopefully, she hasn’t changed the locks.
The Orioles could change their roster before opening day. I won’t dare offer a projection due to their continued need for a left-handed hitting outfielder and the possibility that they could sign a left-handed reliever.
The Diamondbacks released Wesley Wright, who signed with the Orioles last winter and appeared in only two games before they cut him loose in July. There won’t be a reunion.
The Royals released outfielder Travis Snider last night. He batted .237/.318/.341 in 69 games with the Orioles and was released in August. There won’t be a reunion.
Dylan Bundy is excited about beginning the season in the majors, his return taking four years. He’s in the bullpen and in good spirits after allowing five earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. He walked two batters and struck out eight.
Bundy has permitted only two earned runs in his last six appearances spanning 9 1/3 innings.
“My arm’s good. It’s healthy and I’m confident moving forward that my arm is going to stay healthy,” Bundy said.
“I’m just here to compete and whenever they need me I’ll pitch. I don’t really care what role that is. I’ll just go out there and eat up innings and do my job.”
Bundy has worked multiple innings in four of his appearances, including the last three.
“I didn’t know if they were going to stretch me out to three or not,” he said, “but two to three innings sounds like what I’ll be doing, so I’m happy with that.”
The Orioles are thrilled that his recovery time is low. His arm is bouncing back nicely. He doesn’t require extended rest, which would have been an issue in his relief role.
“You don’t get as sore out of the ‘pen as much as a starter, so I kind of enjoy that,” he said. “Not much soreness this spring, so I’m really pleased with that. And I’m confident moving forward.”
Showalter hasn’t used Bundy on back-to-back days. Not yet.
“There’s been some talk about that and they decided there’s no need to do that, I guess, right now,” Bundy said. “Don’t need to push it. But I have done two innings, one day off, one inning, so I’m pretty happy with that. We’ll see how it goes from here.”
Count Bundy among the Orioles who can’t wait to break camp. Nothing against Sarasota, of course, but he’s itching to step inside Camden Yards and throw instead of being examined by a team physician.
“I’ve been ready for a while,” he said. “I’m excited and it’s fun being healthy and out there playing.”
* It was an emotional day and night at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. Showalter couldn’t wait to tell Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard that he made the team, an honor richly deserved, the news coming after the manager spent part of his afternoon telling Miguel Gonzalez that the Orioles were placing him on release waivers.
Talk about highs and lows.
Players are upset that Gonzalez won’t be a teammate this season. Chris Tillman couldn’t hide it while taking questions from the media following his start. A few other Orioles said emotions were raw.
I can say that there isn’t a nicer player in baseball than Gonzalez and the beat crew is going to miss him.
This is a business. Everyone gets it. He didn’t pitch well last season or this spring - scouts and opponents noted the lack of movement on his fastball and how “hittable” he was - and there were durability concerns. The Orioles no longer believed he could have a bounceback season.
Gonzalez was set to make $5.1 million, too much for a pitcher in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation.
Everyone gets it. But that doesn’t make it any easier.
Gonzalez was a joy to be around, a guy who always greeted you with a smile and would gladly talk about subjects other than baseball, never making his visitors feel as though they were intruding. He’d seek us out. A gentle soul who was a fierce competitor on the mound.
This game needs more guys like him.
Hopefully, he still finds a place in it.