➔ See how BaltimoreBaseball.com can grow your business.
One of the biggest, and perhaps undervalued, additions to the 2023 Orioles was James McCann. The backup catcher was a mentor to Adley Rutschman, contributed big hits, developed an excellent working relationship with the pitchers and demonstrated physical toughness.
McCann, who is under contract for the 2024 season, didn’t compile overwhelming statistics — a .222 average and a .646 OPS with six home runs and 22 RBIs. He did lead the American League with a 34 percent caught stealing percentage (15 of 44), which with the restrictions on pickoff attempts and larger bases was 13 points higher than the 21 percent AL average.
“I think the big thing that people don’t really understand is it takes three to four years to really know the league,” McCann said at the Winter Meetings in Nashville earlier this month.
“I tell [Rutschman] constantly: ‘You need to fail. You need to have those moments where you fail because in four or five years, you’re going to draw back on that moment. I’m not going to get back that way again.’
“You have all the information as a rookie, as a second-year player, but truly being able to draw back on in-game experience, it takes three-to-four seasons to be able to compile that information and be able to use that in a game.”
McCann trains with newly signed closer Craig Kimbrel, who lives near him in suburban Nashville, and he’s excited about the personnel on the team.
“The main core is there,” McCann said. “If guys stay healthy, I think you’re going to have another good season. That’s why it’s so exciting a time in Baltimore, knowing you can literally do nothing and you can have quality players in place.”
Even though McCann was one of only two players — the other, outfielder Heston Kjerstad — who didn’t play in the three-game Division Series loss to Texas, he was just as bothered by the sweep.
“It’s easy and it’s hard at the same time,” McCann said. “It’s hard in the sense that I still think about it. I still sit there training and think about, ‘What could we have done different?’
“It’s easy in a sense it’s such a bright future, and it’s so exciting to know that we probably outperformed our expectations in ’23 … not that it didn’t hurt, but it’s like, ‘we outperformed, what are we going to do next year?’
“You go back and forth like you move on because you’re looking forward, but really deep down, it still hurts. At some point, you’ve got to let it go, you’ve to move on, eyes on ’24. It hurt at the moment, and it still hurts, but at the same time. I think it’s an exciting time to be a Baltimore Oriole and what next year and beyond next year can hold.”
Other sports at Oriole Park? During its first 32 years, Camden Yards has hosted hundreds of Orioles games and little else.
In 1995, there was a mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II, and there have been two concerts, Billy Joel in 2019 and Paul McCartney in 2022. Last September’s Bruce Springsteen concert was postponed until next September.
The Orioles have hosted some high school and college baseball games, and the new lease allows them to do more if they can. The lease prohibits the Orioles from hosting, among other things, pro football and basketball games and gun shows.
However, if the Orioles wanted to host an outdoor winter NHL game, they could. Nationals Park was used for the Washington Capitals-Chicago Blackhawks game on January 1st, 2015, and Navy-Marine Corps Stadium hosted the Capitals-Toronto Maple Leafs game on March 3rd, 2018.
Many major league ballparks, Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium, Coors Field, Busch Stadium, Citi Field, Target Field and Citizens Bank Park have hosted outdoor NHL games in recent years, and while Baltimore doesn’t even have a minor league hockey team, there are many Capitals fans in the area.
Seattle’s T-Mobile Park will be 2024’s home of the January 1st Winter Classic with the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken facing off.
The pro football ban doesn’t extend to college football, so a Camden Yards bowl game is theoretically possible, though unlikely. Perhaps if the Military Bowl, now played at Navy, outgrows the stadium there, they could consider Oriole Park, though it might be tough to fit in a football field to the ballpark’s current format.
Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium each present its own bowl.
As for soccer, that’s been the purview of M&T Bank Stadium, and as in football, it would seem to be hard to fit that sport into Camden Yards.
Interest in Germán? In this slow free-agent market, there have been relatively few rumors linking the Orioles with prominent pitchers.
With just a few days before the unofficial pause in free agency, a rumor spread on X on Wednesday that seemed just short of preposterous.
The report by @mikedeportes said the Orioles were one of three teams that met with free-agent right-hander Domingo Germán, formerly of the Yankees.
Germán, who threw a perfect game on June 28th, 2023, baseball’s first in nearly 11 years, has a 6-1 lifetime record and a 2.55 earned-run average against the Orioles.
The report said he had met with Boston and San Diego in addition to the Orioles, and the Padres and Orioles were possible final destinations.
Germán would be a horrible addition to the Orioles. He was suspended late in the 2019 season for domestic abuse, a ban that carried into 2021, and in early August was placed on the restricted list after entering alcohol rehabilitation.
Under executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, the Orioles have steered clear of players with questionable backgrounds, and someone like Germán would be a risk to the team’s placid clubhouse.
I can’t imagine this rumor is serious.
RAVENS LINKS FROM BALTIMORESPORTS.COM