Baltimore Orioles take the turn towards home


The Baltimore Orioles are now past their lone off day of the spring. The Ed Smith Stadium complex was closed to players and media yesterday, with Buck Showalter and the coaching staff encouraging players to take a full day away from team activities. And this is a good thing, incidentally. As I’ve said previously, many players end up hitting a bit of a wall as spring training moves into it’s latter days, and having an off day this close to the end is probably beneficial.

When I say this close to the end, I’m not suggesting that spring training is over – not for another week-and-a-half or so. However we’re starting to enter the home stretch. As the title indicates (if you want to put it in baseball terms), we’re starting to round third for to head for home. The Birds have six home games remaining at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, and seven road games. Those stats include a split squad day this coming Sunday at home against Minnesota and on the road against Tampa. 

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I would look for the Orioles to start keeping their starters in games for a bit longer starting with today’s game in Bradenton against Pittsburgh. Having said that, one of the big position battles aside from backup catcher is still the rotation vs. the bullpen. That also has ramifications for Norfolk’s rotation, as there’ll be some guys who the Birds will opt to send to Norfolk as a starter instead of stashing them in the bullpen.

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One of the names to watch of course is Ubaldo Jimenez, who will be on the mound this afternoon against Pittsburgh. He’ll be opposed by Radamus Liz, the former Oriole. Jimenez of course is coming off of a solid outing last time out, and he’s gotten progressively better as time has gone along. However the question of whether he’s a starter or a reliever still remain. Assuming he’s ready to be a starter out of the gate, my personal opinion is that Kevin Gausman should get the rotation spot with Jimenez in the bullpen, but that remains to be seen.

It’s also worth mentioning that the O’s won’t need five starters right out of the gate. They’ll have the first two Thursdays of the regular season as off days, which means that if they only want to name four starters and have an extended bullpen (or even an additional position player) they could do so. I would think that could be a distinct possibility given the fact that some of the games in the first two weeks of the season will be in cooler temperatures, which can often times affect how long a starter can go in a game. Time will tell, but needless to say we’re not in the home stretch of the spring.

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