A Fan's Take: Baltimore Orioles spring training 2024 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

A Fan’s Take: Baltimore Orioles spring training 2024


As the warmth of spring begins to thaw the icy grip of winter, baseball fans across the nation eagerly anticipate the return of America’s favorite pastime. For Baltimore Orioles fans, spring heralds the start of a new season filled with hope, excitement, and the promise of better days ahead. With the crack of the bat and the pop of the mitt, the Orioles’ spring training becomes the stage that welcomes spring and the hope of another American League East title.

As a devoted Orioles fan, the semi-annual pilgrimage to Sarasota, Florida for spring training is a cherished tradition, but because of Covid and work obligations it has been five years since my last trip to Ed Smith Stadium.

I still cannot help but marvel at the beauty of the stadium, the Orioles’ spring training home. Nestled amid swaying palm trees and bathed in the warm Florida sun, the stadium radiates an aura of tranquility and anticipation. Walking through the gates, fans are greeted by the unmistakable aroma of freshly cut grass, the smiles of the staff, the sea of orange and adults and children punching their fists in their newly oiled baseball gloves.


There were a few things that became evident within the first half hour of setting foot into the stadium.

The first is walking into the team store and seeing a sea of silver hair in front of me.  Five years ago, I remember saying to my wife how old everyone is in here, but as I walked by a mirror, I realized that I am now part of that sea of silver.

The second was the large netting that was along the stands almost foul pole to foul pole. Getting autographs and pictures with the players was much more difficult because there was only a few places in the netting where fans could put their program through so players could sign. I was surprised how many younger kids were at the stadium than in previous trips and that the stadium was packed at every game.

Winning has a way of bringing in the fans.

I was hoping to be able to see Orioles batting practice, so I arrived at the stadium two hours before game time, but the team was already in the clubhouse. So each day all I had the chance to watch was the visiting team shagging fly balls. Instead, I and every other northerner started slapping on the sunscreen to avoid the brutally red knees, feet and necks of the people that forgot to put it in their knapsack.

The Orioles started fast at almost every game, scoring a bevy of runs in the first two innings. It did not matter who the opposing pitcher was or who the batter was, but it was a constant surge of runners crossing home plate. The Oriole hitters were knocking the ball to opposite fields, over the fence, stealing bases and smiling through all of it.

Our pitchers could be a concern again this season. I know that they were working on new pitches, but getting the ball over the plate was an issue. Two of our starting pitchers, Corbin Burnes and Cole Irvin, looked horrible out there, and I was not the only person seeing that. There was plenty of chatter about that same situation.

The younger players all looked like seasoned veterans. Coby Mayo, Kyle Stowers, Colton Cowser, Jackson Holliday, Heston Kjerstad, Samuel Basallo, Maverick Handley, etc., were all making great contact and were insanely good in the field. For those of us who have soft spots for Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Jorge Mateo and Cedric Mullins, we were hoping to see them get hits so they would be with the team for a few years yet. Executive vice-president/general manager Mike Elias is either going to have to bring these players up soon or start to package some veterans together for trade bait for another quality pitcher.

After the sixth inning in every game, the entire lineup changed to players who you know will not be in the starting lineup of any team anytime soon. Even though people wanted to see the entire game, by the end of the seventh inning half the stadium was empty.

Do the Orioles really need to be playing 30 spring training games? Does any team?  From spring training to the end of the World Series a team can have around 220 games in a complete season. That is a lot of wear and tear on these players.

I’m looking forward to the regular season.

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