Dinged up starters Brian Roberts, Derrek Lee and Koji Uehara could appear in games this weekend. All have progressed well and seem to be back on track this spring healthwise. According to Roch Kubatko Roberts hit off a tee from both sides while Lee took soft-toss. Both felt good. Manager Buck Showalter feels they are both on track for April 1 so long as there are no other setbacks.
The Orioles were featured on MLB Network’s 30 in 30 show tonight. The hour-long program featured analysis of the team from Sarasota – and that is really about all I can say. Anyone that was looking for in-depth hard-hitting analysis would need to go elsewhere. The overall tone: They are improved but the AL East is HARRRRRRRRRRRRRD. Thanks guys, tell us something we don’t know. That being said the show seemed to be very positive. AS an Oriole fan it was hard not feel all warm and fuzzy with the hosts heaping praise on the team even if it did feel a bit “fluffy” at times. Former Oriole Harold Reynolds seemed particularly excited with the Orioles new (projected) lineup for Opening Day on MLB Tonight the previous evening. When comparing it to last year’s lineup it is hard not to see the significant improvement.
Replace Tejada with Vlad (in the cleanup spot); Atkins with Lee; Pie with Reynolds (in the seven-hole) and Izturis with Hardy. Definite improvement right there, it really can’t be argued.
But it isn’t exactly the thoughtful professional analysis that I think some were looking for. But then again the IS the MLB network, they really aren’t going to expose the warts of their own product very much. They aren’t exactly going to roll into Seattle, Baltimore, Cleveland and KC and say: “sorry guys you may be better but pack it up; no chance,” so the fact that the questions to Mark Reynolds were a bit soft and the coverage was a bit fluffy should not be that much of a shock to anyone.
In other more sobering news the Orioles got almost no-hit tonight in Tampa against the Yankees in a 10-0 loss. Losing bites, no matter the situation. Losing to the Yankees especially bites, no matter the situation. If there is any consolation to this debacle it is the fact that the Orioles did not put any of their starters on the mound tonight , no tonight was all relievers all the time. Jim Johnson got things started went one inning giving up three hits and a run. Mark Hendrickson went two scoreless. Gonzalez went one inning giving up two hits and a run while striking out two. David Riske went one scoreless – then it all went wrong. Clay Rapada, Rick VandenHurk and Armando Gabino combined for three innings giving up eight runs, all earned. VandenHurk was particularly poor not even recording an out on his way to giving up three hits, five runs, walking three and running his Spring Training ERA to a hefty 13.50.
As Vandenhurk continues to do everything in his power to NOT make this team the only other real intrigue on the roster appears to be the battle for the last roster spots between Nolan Reimold, Jake Fox, Felix Pie and Craig Tatum. Tatum and Fox are fighting it out for the backup catcher position. Tatum has been sidelined with an injury the last week but finally appears to get back into the game soon. The battle between Fox and Tatum mirror the race between Reimold and Pie nicely. Tatum, like Pie, is easily the better defensive player but the potential of Fox and Reimold’s respective bats are very very alluring. Fox has experience catching but Tatum is so strong defensively he makes a great argument. Right now however I don’t see how Fox can’t make the team. He is versatile enough that he can play multiple in-field positions, that is to say he can stand next to third and first base and collect baseball that are hit in his general direction, so that is a plus for him but his bat will get him on this team.
The same can be said for Nolan. He seems to have cooled off a bit since his stellar start, but Pie still seems to be completely AWOL. He isn’t turning any heads or doing much to change people’s minds.
The Orioles are now only two weeks away from opening day and some things still need to happen. Roberts needs to get back into a game, Lee needs to get IN a game and I am still waiting for anything resembling Matt Wieters’ power.