Updates on season status and another childhood heartbreak

The constant speculation over Major League Baseball’s return and in what form is doing little besides confusing fans and spreading rumors.

Separating truth from fiction is requiring a lot more muscle these days. Implement it into your workouts while gyms are closed.

We don’t know if or when baseball will be played. We don’t know how long spring training 2.0 will last and whether teams would head back to Florida and Arizona. We don’t know if the schedule will be packed with doubleheaders. We don’t know whether neutral sites will be used for some postseason games if the weather turns cold.

The All-Star Game could be canceled. Or not. The regular season could bleed into October. Or not.

ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reported yesterday that players and the league agreed to “consider” neutral sites and shifting games to empty stadiums. The season won’t begin as long as bans remain on mass gatherings or if travel restrictions exist. Common sense stuff.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that rosters are frozen. No date has been set to thaw them and it could keep changing depending on the medical climate.

The Orioles are frozen at 50, an unusually high total. They’ve made four moves since returning from Sarasota, all of them announced on March 19. Pitcher David Hess, infielder/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle, outfielder Cedric Mullins and infielder Ramón Urías were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

No cuts had been announced since left-hander Keegan Akin was optioned to the Tides back on March 10. None appear to be happening in the near future.

The active roster on opening day is expected to increase from 26 to 29 for the first month. The Orioles’ workload lightens a little, but they’d still need to cut 21 players.

Here is the updated camp roster:

Right-handed pitchers
Shawn Armstrong
Cody Carroll
Miguel Castro
Alex Cobb
Thomas Eshelman
Mychal Givens
Eric Hanhold
Hunter Harvey
Branden Kline
Travis Lakins Sr.
Evan Phillips
Chandler Shepherd
Kohl Stewart
Cole Sulser
Dillon Tate
Hector Velázquez
Asher Wojciechowski

Left-handed pitchers
Ty Blach
Richard Bleier
Paul Fry
Wade LeBlanc
John Means
Tommy Milone
Tanner Scott
Rob Zastryzny
Bruce Zimmermann

Catchers
Taylor Davis
Bryan Holaday
Pedro Severino
Chance Sisco
Austin Wynns

Infielders
Hanser Alberto
Chris Davis
Dilson Herrera
José Iglesias
Richie Martin
Renato Núñez
José Rondón
Rio Ruiz
Richard Ureña
Pat Valaika
Andrew Velázquez

Diaz-on-Base-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgOutfielders
Yusniel Diaz
Austin Hays
Trey Mancini
Anthony Santander
Dwight Smith Jr.
DJ Stewart
Stevie Wilkerson
Mason Williams

Phillips remains in his prescribed rest period after coming down with a sore elbow in spring training. The good news is he doesn’t need to undergo a surgical procedure.

There isn’t a firm date for Phillips to resume throwing. He maintains almost daily contact with head athletic trainer Brian Ebel and has access to equipment that enables him to perform various exercises.

Phillips is a candidate for the injured list, but again, it’s hard to project without knowing if and when the season is going to start. It’s more of an assumption at this point.

* As I recounted the many childhood heartbreaks caused by the Orioles, I also should have included the Frank Robinson trade in December 1971.

I’d like to claim that the trade taught me that baseball is a business, but I just remember being so confused by it. It made no sense to an 8-year-old kid.

A kid who carried an Orioles lunchbox to school with Robinson’s image painted on it.

(Just don’t drop it or your thermos of milk would sound like a maraca.)

The Orioles won the World Series with Robinson in 1966 and 1970. They also won the American League pennant in 1969 and 1971. The best player ever to wear the uniform - though he wasn’t the greatest Oriole because his tenure was too short, if you abide by my rules.

There’s no way you’re going to get a young fan excited about Doyle Alexander. And don’t waste your time pimping Royle Stillman.

Alexander was a decent pitcher for the Orioles. You’d gladly take that 3.41 ERA in 137 games today, and the 0.6 home runs per nine innings. The 3.3 strikeouts per nine were wimpy, but he was pretty good. And he lasted 19 seasons in the majors, going 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts with the Tigers in 1987 after they acquired him from the Braves.

The Tigers won the American League East because of Alexander. But they also surrendered future Hall of Famer John Smoltz in the deal.

I never accepted Alexander because of the Robinson trade. Didn’t like his delivery, didn’t like the shape of his head. He could have won 20 games, back when a pitcher’s win total mattered, and I would have found fault with him.

As the story goes, general manager Frank Cashen, just a few weeks into the job after Harry Dalton left for the Angels, never would have traded Robinson if he knew that the American League would adopt the designated hitter rule in 1973.

Dalton supposedly recommended the trade before he left. I learned this fact much later in life.

It wouldn’t have meant anything to me as a kid. I only cared that Robinson no longer played for the Orioles and my lunchbox depressed me - except on those days when a can of chocolate pudding was inside it.

You’re getting old when you remember pudding cans with the pull tab, and how you’d try to lick the lid without slicing open your tongue.

You’re also getting old when the Frank Robinson trade put you in a major funk. Or if the one that brought him to Baltimore, which I don’t remember, brightened your baseball day.

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