Baltimore Orioles: Birdee's and BoSox

Somehow hearing Hall and Oats on the radio while driving to the gym on a pleasant  Sunday morning all while knowing that Orioles baseball will be on that afternoon signifies that all is right with the world. The Orioles will in fact play this afternoon, and it’s a game against the Boston Red Sox that will be televised by MASN for the folks back home. Speaking for myself, I’m looking forward to getting my first look at one of the Orioles’ off season aquisitions, Dana Eveland, who’ll get the starting nod this afternoon. Several other pitchers will see action in the game, including Chris Tillman, Darren O’Day, and possibly Pedro Strop.

It is worth mentioning that the weather looks hit-or-miss for this afternoon in Sarasota. They’re calling for a 40% chance of rain, however that could also mean a quick Florida “flash storm.” That aside I’m not sure that Eveland will be in the rotation once the season starts, however he was possibly the poster-child for the underwhelming feel to the Orioles’ off season. (He was acquired in a Dan Duquette trade on the final day of the winter meetings. Nevertheless, today will be his first chance to show the fans back home that he’s worthy of being on this roster. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of command he has against a still potent Boston lineup.

I’m looking forward to seeing Tillman pitch this afternoon. Tillman and Brad Bergesen are kind of in the same boat, and I tend to think that they get lumped together quite frequently. Tillman’s debut came in 2009 and he was pretty good. He was injured towards the end of the season, and in truth he’s never really regained his velocity or command. He was stellar towards the end of the 2010 season after Buck Showalter took over, but 2011 was definitely a step backwards in terms of both velocity and command. I tend to think that his nadir was last July when he was called up to pitch the first leg of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, only to be sent right back down between games after giving up seven runs (five earned) in 4.1 innings of an 8-3 loss.  I believe he’s scheduled to pitch second (behind Eveland), so odds are he’ll face mostly the Red Sox’s regular players.

Yesterday the O’s beat Philadelphia 1-0 behind a Chris Davis homer in the fourth inning. The question is whether or not the run production could end up being an issue. Fear not for the time being; Adam Jones did not make the trip (to Clearwater) yesterday, and neither did J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, or Robert Andino. The unwritten rule is that a minimum of three starting players must go on all road trips in spring training. (Teams can often get around that by claiming that they don’t know who’s going to be a starter…) Presumably Showalter left many starters back so as to rest up for today’s game so the hometown fans back in Baltimore can get a look at them on MASN.

For what it’s worth, I was impressed with Darren O’Day in last week’s game against Pittsburgh so I’ll keep my eye on him today as well. Buck Showalter has also hinted that the first round of reassignments (to minor league camp) is coming shortly, so moving forward this week we might see a rotation of sorts starting to form given that the number of pitchers will presumably shrink. First thing’s first…play Boston this afternoon.

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala

Tags: Buck Showalter Orioles

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