Going into last night’s Florida Grapefruit League finale against Tampa, the Baltimore Orioles had avoided sustaining any major injuries to any big name players, unless you count Nolan Reimold and Michael Almanzar (currently on the DL). However in the fourth inning of last night’s 4-3 loss to Tampa Nelson Cruz was hit on the bill of his helmet by an Alex Cobb off speed pitch. Obviously that and a pitcher being nailed by a comebacker are two of the scariest type of moments that baseball has to offer. However for all intents and purposes, it appears that the Orioles dodged a bullet. Cruz was taken to a local hospital and given a CT scan; he isn’t expected to miss Opening Day on Monday.
The O’s finished Spring Training with a 13-9-4 record; and you have to figure that in at least three of those four ties the Orioles had the lead late, and ended up losing it. However according to manager Buck Showalter, the Birds accomplished everything that they were hoping to accomplish in Spring Training. As he told MASN’s Roch Kubatko after last night’s game, “…we’re as ready as we can be.”
It’s tough to judge how a team is going to do based on Spring Training records, because for the
most part the games don’t really unfold the way a normal game would. Towards the end the manaers will normally let things go the way they would during the season, but other than that the games are almost scripted in terms of who pitches when and for how long. However Oriole fans should take a lot of hope based on the fact that the team looked very good in most of their spring games. And speaking of the fans, last night’s game was the seventh sellout of the spring for the Orioles, who have really been embraced by the Sarasota community since moving their Spring Training headquarters there in 2010. Whether it’s fans coming down from the Baltimore area, local Sarasota people, or fans from far and wide who just want to take in a game, the O’s have consistently drawn well in Sarasota. And they’ve rewarded the fans that have come by having arguably the nicest facility in baseball.
Following last night’s game reliever Alfredo Aceves was informed that he was not going to make the Orioles’ 25-man roster, and he’s apparently going to opt out of his contract. The Birds signed Aceves to a minor league deal this past off season, however it’s clear that he was expecting to be on the big league roster. The Orioles will remain in Sarasota to tie up loose ends today, and then are expected to formally break camp in a sense tomorrow when they board their team charter bound for Norfolk, VA as they get set to take on the Tides at 3 PM. However rain is expected in the Norfolk area tomorrow, so if the game ends up being rained out the Birds will remain in Sarasota awhile longer for a workout on Saturday.
Buck Showalter will need to trim his active roster down to 25 by 3 PM Sunday, and he’s expected to make his final cuts on Saturday in Norfolk. It makes sense if you think about it – most of those final cuts will be playing for the Tides anyways, so the O’s might as well drop them off there!