Looking back on the first week of Spring Training games, what might we observe? Well, nothing definitive, since the “sampling size” is small. And as always, it is a mixed bag of good and bad stuff – or maybe, hopeful and disconcerting stuff. But here is a sampling of early opinions:
First, some general observations:
– The pitchers are indeed ahead of the hitters. This is common in Spring Training and nothing to worry about – at least it better not be!
– There is a lot of rust on the fundamentals! I am seeing mental mistakes and cutoff men not hit; the ball is being thrown wildly, etc. For a professional team, there is an awful lot of chasing down loose balls rolling all over the field.
– I cannot help but think that the team and MASN are grieved over the nature of the two televised games that have thus far been sent to the home market… both rather ugly.
– This first week was not nearly as good as the first week last year. Does that mean anything? Probably not. But looking back at my week one notes from last year, the pitching was about as good as we have seen this year, but the hitting was much better. Jake Fox had 3x as many homers as the entire Orioles team this season. But Vlad was hammering the ball at that time – so – where did that get us?
Nolan Reimold – The sound of a fastball off the dome bone is never a good thing. This was not helpful at all! We need this guy, and one of the top storylines now of the Spring will be how Nolan’s recovery (in every way) transpires as the season approaches.
Brain Matusz – I did not see anything to be excited about after his first outing … just could not put a pretty face on it. But wow, certainly the Saturday game with four efficient innings was a great encouragement – probably to him more than anyone! Along with Tillman – who has had at least a decent week, if they both come back with strong seasons, let me be the first to promote Brady Anderson for MVP!
Jake Arrieta – I am not surprised that his first outing went well and that the recovery from surgery is apparently successful. Jake could well be the ace of the team for a long time. That would not really astonish any serious O’s fan – we just needed to see it happen. When he is on with his stuff working, he is a top-of-the-line pitcher.
Kevin Gregg – It sure looked like déjà-vu all over again! First outing – 3 pitches, 2 runs scored! THEN, he mows down three in a row… thanks! Do I really root against him? Ugh, geez! Time for introspection here … let me get back to you on that later down the page …
The Four Letter Words from Japan (I’m thankful for short Oriental last names) – It is too early to tell for sure, but Chen’s situation at the moment is encouraging, whereas Wada’s is more perilous – as he is like a specialist surgeon with little window for error … where the doctor either performs a medical miracle or kills the patient on the table!
Jai Miller – This guy is an athlete. I am hoping the Orioles can find a way to keep him. Betemit is not exciting me yet, but it is early.
Dylan Bundy – Total stud, ‘nuff said. No, I’ll say more – I’m not sure that this particular young man fits the same category as those many, many examples of young pitchers rushed to the majors too soon. I understand that an argument can be made in both directions on this … all I’m saying is that this guy is a different cat altogether. And even as I’m sitting here writing this, word has come from the Orioles that Bundy is headed to the DelMarVa Shorebirds affiliate. That means that he will be playing in my town of Hagerstown when they visit the Suns – a Nationals team in the South Atlantic League. Excellent!
Matt Lindstrom – Not a good start … rough outings … sore back. Early. Small sample. Yep, yep.
Kevin Gregg (part B) – OK … I just have to say that I don’t believe in him. I know he can have good outings, but too many are something else. Even if he has a good Spring, I think he best serves the Orioles in a different colored uniform. So, if he stinks up the place and is moved because of that, well amen! If he does well this Spring, and some team will trade a little bit of nothing for the joy of sheer chaos in their ballpark, well amen!
Overall – Lots of rust. Lots of shutout innings by pitchers! Lots of work to be done. Lots more evaluation to occur. Lots of players in camp. Lots of aching muscles in lower backs. Lots of people to get acquainted. Lots of fundamentals to hone. Lots of lots of. But it’s the lots of time of the year.