This year’s spring training has a different feel to it. Last year the Orioles were coming off a red hot end to the season after Buck Showalter took over, and expectations were for them to at least be near the .500 mark. Obviously that didn’t happen.
This year the expectations are low, and there is quite a bit of uncertainty about this team, especially in the starting rotation. VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette issued a call to arms and brought in more arms than you can shake a stick at, and so far the main pitchers looking for a spot in the rotation have been performing very well.
Last week Brian Matusz was knocked around by the Pittsburgh Pirates during his first start of the year, but he turned it around against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, throwing four scoreless innings and striking out four while allowing only three hits and no walks. A great improvement from his first outing, and I expect Matusz to keep improving.
Jake Arrieta might be Baltimore’s opening day starter. After missing significant time with injury last year, Arrieta made his first appearance this spring and threw two innings, striking out one and walking one. Arrieta looked very sharp on the mound, throwing 24 pitches, 17 for strikes.
Newcomer Wei-Yin Chen also looked good in his debut. Chen pitched two innings, striking out three and allowing only one hit. His fastball was a bit slower than anticipated, clocking only 91 on the gun, but it was his first start this year so I’ll let that slide for now!
Alfredo Simon has been making a strong push for a rotation spot. So far, Simon has thrown five innings, striking out five and walking none. He has also yet to allow a run. If he can keep his control in check, he certainly has great stuff to be a starter.
Chris Tillman seems to be as inconsistent as ever. His first start against the Boston Red Sox didn’t go so well as he gave up two earned runs on four hits in two innings. His next outing against Boston was much better as he went three innings and allowed only one hit in relief. He still has some work to do if he wants to make the rotation. Right now I would put him on the outside looking in.
One other pitcher of note who has been looking pretty good is another newcomer Darren O’Day. O’Day has yet to allow a run this spring, and although he is not a starter, he will definitely play a big role in the bullpen.
Other news from around camp is left fielder Nolan Reimold was hit in the head by Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays. Reimold suffered a chipped tooth and his jaw was a little swollen and will wait for that swelling to go down before he plays again, which should be soon. He was lucky.
Offensively, it looks like Chris Davis and Jai Miller came to camp extra prepared. Davis is hitting .308 with the team’s only home run. Miller has also looked impressive, hitting .400 with two doubles in ten at bats. If he keeps that up and his strike outs down, he might make decisions very difficult for Buck Showalter.
Finally, the O’s made their first round of cuts on Sunday, sending Ryan Adams and Josh Bell down to AAA Norfolk. Rookie pitcher Dylan Bundy was sent to Class A Delmarva. Also cut were players Xavier Avery, LJ Hoes, Michael Ohlman, Brian Ward, and Steve Johnson.
by Andy Mindzak