Baltimore Orioles: Rough Start in Spring Games


Mar 4, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles infielder Manny Machado (13) warms up before the second inning of a spring training game against the Detroit Tigers at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Things are not going as planned for the Baltimore Orioles after the first two games of the spring training season. Losses of 15-2 and 5-4 to the Detroit Tigers are of course irrelevant in fact, yet the on-field performances so far of many players – particularly the projected 25-man roster personnel – are not what would be hoped for.

But again, it is early; it is just a couple of games. It will likely soon be forgotten, maybe even after a pair of split-squad games on Thursday. And remember this, a bad day of Orioles baseball in Florida beats a good day of late-winter snow and ice in Maryland!

However, consider some early numbers after these two games. The Orioles at the plate are 16-for-67 (.239).  The presumed 25-man roster players are just 5-for-31, while those others attempting to make the team or who will be slotted for the minors are a much better 11-for-36 combined.

None of the six runs batted in have come off the stick of one of the presumed big league roster members. Nolan Reimold has two, whereas there is one each from Jolio Borbon, Henry Urrutia, Dariel Alvarez, and Jayson Nix – on a solo home run.

The pitching has a couple of more bright spots, but still with more bad outings than good ones.

There are efforts by both Buck Showalter and Ubaldo Jimenez to couch the righty’s very nasty start in a better light than I believe can be supported by any reality. Jimenez himself said he did not need to change anything – that after giving up six runs in 1.1 innings, with two hit batters, two walks, a wild pitch and a throwing error … yes, by Ubaldo. Throwing the ball is hard to do. Jimenez claimed to be just missing, getting the zone pinched. I don’t know, I was not there to see it; but even so, that does not explain the batters hit or the wild pitch, etc., etc.

Showalter said he liked Ubaldo’s stuff, even to say that it is ahead of where he was a year ago. Actually, Jimenez made his first spring start on March 7th of 2014 against the Phillies and shut them down for two innings. Yes, it was the Phillies – I get that. Then in his second start he became the guy we all now know, giving up four runs on four hits and three walks in two innings to the … wait for it, wait for it … the Phillies!  So there goes that theory.

As I wrote in my spring training bold predictions piece two days ago, I do seriously fear that Jimenez is not going to figure it out, other than for brief windows of time over the next three years.

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Also curious is the case of Eddie Gamboa. Here is a fellow with a new knuckleball that is supposed to be terribly effective. Apparently it can be very good. He is going to throw it in a mix with other pitches – those other pitches being, pound for pound, sub-par compared to other pitchers at this level. So, wanting to make the team and make an impression, he does not throw many knuckleballs but rather gives up four runs in an inning on fastballs – including a three-run homer by Aaron Westlake who is a career minor leaguer with a .255 average. This is not putting one’s best foot forward. Forgive me for being logical, and know that I wish for them all to succeed.

At least we can write today that Kevin Gausman, T.J. McFarland, Dylan Bundy and Wesley Wright all looked reasonably good in their outings. On Wednesday it was Chaz Roe who go lit up for four of the Tigers’ five runs, all in one inning. We can bear that news. Ryan Webb allowed the fifth run.

It is early, and please do forgive any snarky tone in anything said today; it is simply expressive writing coming out rather than criticism or discouragement about results.

Bigger than anything is the fact that baseball is happening! That sentence was written while the Weather Channel reports the pending storm and record low temperatures coming to Maryland. So that’s probably more of the reason why this article may sound a bit cranky.

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