Oriole camp impressions 4 weeks from Opening Day - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Oriole camp impressions 4 weeks from Opening Day

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Four weeks from now, on April 1st, the Orioles will open the 2021 season at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox, the team visiting Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on Thursday.

Here are some early impressions:

John Means will get Opening Day start

Means’ first game was on Tuesday against the New York Yankees. If he pitches every five days, he’ll be on track to start on Opening Day, which is expected. He’s accomplished more than any other starter in an Orioles uniform, and he finished strong last September.

It’s worth noting that in manager Brandon Hyde’s first two seasons, injury has changed his Opening Day plans.

In 2019, Alex Cobb was his choice, but Andrew Cashner started the opener at Yankee Stadium because of a groin injury to Cobb. He did start the home opener, but it was one of only three starts he made because of hip and knee surgeries.

Last year, in the 60-game season, Means was set to start the July 24 opener at Fenway Park but he was held out because of arm fatigue. Tommy Milone, who came into spring training on a minor league contract, got the start instead.

Hyde probably will wait, perhaps another two weeks, before he makes the announcement on his Opening Day starter.

Impressive start for outfielders

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The Orioles had hoped that the outfield would be a strength this season, and the early signs are positive. Austin Hays is 4-for-5 (.800), DJ Stewart has two home runs, and Cedric Mullins looks stronger hitting exclusively from the left side after deciding not to switch-hit any longer.

Mullins has been a superior left-handed hitter (.251 with 6 homers and 23 RBis and a .699 OPS) than a right-handed hitter (.147 with 1 and 4 RBIs and a .439 OPS). Even his seven (out of eight) steals last season came after he got on as a left-handed hitter. He also led the majors in bunt hits with nine, and he gets an advantage on beating those out from the left side.

The Orioles hope that Mullins will becomes a more effective player, setting up and outfield rotation of him, Hays, Stewart, Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle.

Relievers look strong

Hyde says it’s best not to read too much into early performances in spring training, but the bullpen looks solid.

The serious contenders for bullpen spots — Shawn Armstrong, Paul Fry, Hunter Harvey, Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser, Dillon Tate and César Valdez — completed their first outings without incident.

Travis Lakins, who threw in a simulated game on Wednesday, has yet to pitch in a Grapefruit League game.

Fry allowed three runs on four hits on Tuesday against the Yankees, but struck out two.

Fernando Abad, who came into camp on a minor league contract, has thrown two scoreless innings.

Team isn’t going to move

In the first of a series of eight interviews on the team’s broadcast rights-holder, 105.7 The Fan, Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos said that the club isn’t going to move.

That shouldn’t be news, but older fans remember the pain of losing the Colts to Indianapolis 37 years ago.

When the team signed a two-year lease extension, those fears resurfaced.

The Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority, which last month agreed to the two-year extension, would like to make substantial improvements not only to Oriole Park at Camden Yards but the area around the ballpark and M&T Bank Stadium.

In the first part of the interview, Angelos repeatedly referred to the Ravens and their owner, Steve Bisciotti, as partners, along with the state and city, in the next phase of development. Because of the pandemic, the money isn’t there to begin seriously planning the improvements, but it should be there two years from now.

Angelos said that if there had be a longer interim extension of five or 10 years, the urgency to renew for a much longer term would not be there.

Listening to the 10-minute interview, he didn’t sound like an owner planning to move or to sell.

Call for questions: I’ll be answering questions early next week. Please leave them in the comments below or email me: [email protected].

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. calvinisthobbesian

    March 4, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    “…he didn’t sound like an owner… planning to sell.” That’s too bad.

    • CalsPals

      March 4, 2021 at 2:42 pm

      Not the move, but I wouldn’t mind selling to someone or a group willing to invest beyond ownership, like a real MLB team…go O’s…

    • 33d St

      March 4, 2021 at 7:17 pm

      Does Bisciotti have enough cash left over to buy the Orioles?

  2. 33d St

    March 4, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Question: when will spring training games start going 9 innings?

  3. chico salmon

    March 4, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    I have often criticized the Angelos ownership group but, today, I compliment John for stepping out from behind the curtain. I don’t mean to be cynical, but it is season ticket renewal and ticket sales time, and I don’t think the timing of his “coming out” was coincidental. Be that as it may, John could do a world of good by doing this more often – showing a face to the fans – reassuring us by promoting the team and stadium. It looks like he actually cares, which a lot of us have doubted over the years.

    • BirdsCaps

      March 4, 2021 at 10:48 pm

      I agree 100%! I like to know what the jerk that cuts simple things such as televised spring training and being cheap in the fa market looks like. They have a little bit more of a cushion for another year or two, but they better be ready to finance a winner when the “good times” return

  4. millboy

    March 5, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Now is not the time to “spend” in the free agent market. Bring up the prospects and see what you have…let it shake out. This does not happen overnight

  5. Bman

    March 5, 2021 at 9:25 am

    They’re still in the use veterans mode and trade them at the deadline for prospects. I expect this to be the last year and go for winning record next year and full on youth movement. The players may surprise this year though throwing a wrench in Elias plans. It will be an exciting season watching these young guys play.

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