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So, as an Orioles’ fan, you were excited when Andrew Cashner made his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday and threw four scoreless innings. And you were relieved Monday when Dylan Bundy, after two poor exhibition starts, allowed just one run in five innings.
And then you were angry about the state of the Orioles’ rotation Tuesday, when Chris Tillman made his Grapefruit League debut and walked six of the 14 guys he faced and was charged with four runs allowed in two-plus innings.
That performance cemented what you have been thinking all winter: That the Orioles’ rotation is gonna be bad and that Tillman was a waste of $3 million.
OK, now step down from the ledge.
Tillman’s start Tuesday meant nothing. And, frankly, neither did Bundy’s on Monday or Cashner’s on Sunday.
There’s a reason Grapefruit League games are exhibitions: Because no one is ready. No hitter is playing nine innings No pitcher is trying to go deep into the games. The competitive juices are trickling, but not flowing.
Think of these as similar to the first few preseason football games. Once the real games start, no one ever considers what happened in those exhibitions – assuming everyone avoids injury.
It’s funny. It seems like my “it’s early” mantra is being used earlier and earlier now.
I get the concern with Tillman given his performance last season and the fact that he didn’t throw strikes Tuesday. But to immediately huff about it being a bad signing is, well, embarrassingly premature. Give. It. Time. And then complain later if he continues to struggle when games count.
If we are having this conversation in late May, well, there will be a problem. But not in March.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is one of many long-time baseball men who subscribe to the theory that too much is made of March and September performances. The beauty of baseball is that it is a long season, and it has to play out between those months.
Predicting what will happen in August based on what we’re seeing in March is fool’s gold. Remember that the next time your blood pressure rises in the spring.
Today’s exhibition has intriguing pitching matchup
This afternoon’s game between the Orioles and the New York Yankees – which will be aired on MASN – gives Miguel Castro another chance to start this spring.
Castro is fighting for the fifth starter’s spot, and it’s going to be interesting to see what the Orioles ultimately do with the 23-year-old right-hander.
He is competing with Mike Wright Jr., and Nestor Cortes Jr., and he had more success in the big leagues than the other two. But he’s also the only one of the trio that can be sent to the minors without incident (Wright would have to pass through waivers; Cortes, a Rule 5 pick, would have to pass waivers and be offered back to the Yankees).
Showalter has said he expects to take the best 25 players with him to Baltimore. And, if that’s the case, Castro should be one of those based on what he did in 2017 for the Orioles (a 3.53 ERA in 39 games).
But it’s clear the Orioles need rotation help in 2018, and Castro has started once as a big leaguer – last September 30, when he lasted only 3 1/3 innings.
It’s a logical personnel move to send him to Triple-A Norfolk to gain starting experience. But it goes against the “best 25” philosophy.
It’s certainly a situation worth watching.
Also worth monitoring Wednesday is the starter that the Yankees will use against a representative Orioles’ lineup: Right-hander Chance Adams.
Adams is only 23 and is ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ fourth best prospect and second-best pitching prospect, as well as the 21st ranked right-handed minor leaguer in the game.
I tell you this because Adams and left-handed prospect Justus Sheffield are the young pitchers the Orioles apparently coveted if they were to, gulp, consider dealing Manny Machado to the Yankees this winter.
No idea if the Yankees would have bitten and surrendered Adams and/or Sheffield. So, you can call it nothing but speculation. Still, it’s worth noting the Orioles will get a close-up look at Adams today.
Free tickets for kids is brilliant – simple as that
If you want to be a cynic, you can say the Orioles’ new, “Kids Cheer Free” promotion is a pre-emptive tactic to fill some seats at Camden Yards given that this team doesn’t look particularly good for 2018.
Maybe that’s the case.
Baseball is slipping past younger generations. I see it as a youth coach. I see it as a sports reporter. I see it as someone who enjoys baseball and is staring at the wrong side of my 40s.
I grew up going to Memorial Stadium as a kid; it was our family’s top entertainment choice, partially because it was cheap and, yes, partially because those late 1970s/early 1980s Orioles’ teams were great.
But that’s where my love for the game grew – at the stadium.
Anything the Orioles and Major League Baseball can do to foster that yearning for baseball in today’s youth and get them to the parks should be applauded.
Giving away two upper deck tickets for kids ages 9 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket is nothing short of genius.
Give credit where it is due. The Orioles deserve back-pats for this one.
Camden Yards is already fan friendly. The policy of allowing fans to bring in their own food is huge for families with modest incomes. This new ticket promotion makes it even more affordable for those families.
If you aren’t in York, Pa., and didn’t have a chance to listen to my weekly radio show on WOYK on Tuesday night, no worries.
The show, which featured my rantings on the Orioles’ pitching staff as well as excerpts of interviews with Dan Duquette and Brad Brach, can be found on the station’s website and on iTunes as part of BaltimoreBaseball.com’s podcasts.
You can also click below and listen here: