Spring Training, Roberts, Contracts & Today’s Game on TV

The Orioles have had six straight losses in Spring Training, including an awful error-filled game in a loss to the Rays on Tuesday. Does it mean much, no. Players are simply trying to get their work in and get ready for the season; however, if you’re a pitcher on the fringes, a backup guy trying to stay in the big leagues, or a minor leaguer trying to get a look from the organization – this time of year is important.

Still it doesn’t look good when the team has lost six straight in exhibition season. Then again, let’s hope things get figured out with the Orioles before the season begins.

Now, it also seems that Brian Roberts may not be ready for Opening Day according to reports. If that’s true, it’s a major blow to the Orioles. Most of us know that the second baseman has been out due to a back issue, but it seems like the medicine Roberts has been taking made him ill.

Roberts, who has a herniated disk in his back and then got sick as a result of the medication he was taking to ease the inflammation, hasn’t played in a game all spring, and now he has been shut down until at least Thursday.

“I talked to Richie Bancells, our head athletic trainer, about it again today, and at this time he still thinks Brian is going to be ready for Opening Day, but you have to be concerned now,” MacPhail said. “To me, you get 10 days into spring training before you start really paying attention, but the clock is starting to be an issue. … By now, we have to start thinking about, ‘What if he isn’t ready?’ “

MacPhail said he might start having his scouts look at who is available on the trade market along with exploring internal options.

Roberts started taking an oral medication Sunday and became ill. He reported to Ed Smith Stadium on Tuesday but spent much of the day in the training room. The two-time All-Star will be re-evaluated Thursday, but he’s at least a week away from getting into a game.

Not good. I’d say give Brian all the time he needs to get healthy at this point. He’s one of the cornerstones with the franchise, and it’s better if he were 100 percent later, than playing at 80 percent in the near future.

Also, the Orioles extended the contracts of several players including Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Jason Berken & Nolan Reimold. It seems everyone took the deal as it was — a business decision, despite how they feel about how their pay realistically compared with their performance.

The Orioles announced Tuesday that the remaining unsigned players in camp have come to terms, but not everyone came along voluntarily. The club exercised its right under Major League Baseball‘s collective bargaining agreement and renewed the contracts of Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold and Jason Berken after negotiations failed to produce agreement on their 2010 salaries.

The union contract allows a team to pay its “zero-to-three” players (players with less than three years of major league service) any amount, so long as it does not tender a contract for less than the major league minimum salary or cut a player’s previous salary more than 20 percent. But that doesn’t mean team officials enjoy putting that hammer down.

The renewal of contracts of young players is just procedural and is part of the business aspect of the game, as Jones, Reimold, Berken and Wieters have all had less than three years of major league tenure.

It’s no big deal. Most players have gone through the same process. A few years ago, Nick Markakis complained publicly about the process — yes, it sucked — however, in the end, he and the team came out to a nice long term deal and life went on.

Everything will change though once everyone reaches arbitration, and the better they perform, the money they will get. I would expect the team to start talking with Adam Jones on a contract fairly soon.

Finally, I recieved an en email from a represenative at Major League Baseball noting that the blackout has been lifted in the Orioles’ local television market for MLB Network’s simulcast of the Orioles at Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training game today at 7:00 p.m. ET. MLB Network will carry Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh’s call of the game.

So that’s another game for us to watch live during the exhibition season. Good to see.