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For Chris Davis, there's something special about Baltimore


For Chris Davis, there's something special about Baltimore

Players who’ve been with the Orioles for any length of time will tell you there’s something special about the team and its town.

Chris Davis kept referring to it at his press conference on Thursday night. Matt Wieters talked about it when he accepted the qualifying offer. It was obvious with Darren O’Day, too.

The clubhouse chemistry has been well documented. Manager Buck Showalter, who quickly got Baltimore, runs a clubhouse where few players are unhappy.

Davis talked about being involved in the community, and it’s a lot easier here than in other places.

Baltimore is one of the smallest markets in major league baseball, and it’s one of the smallest with two teams.

While residents here are justifiably proud of the city’s rich sports history, and for a city its size it has an amazing list of great athletes, it’s not terribly large.

Baltimore wouldn’t want to be compared with Cincinnati or Kansas City, but that’s a much fairer comparison than Philadelphia or Washington.

The relative smallness of Baltimore is part of what makes it comfortable for athletes.

Many Orioles live in the city during the season. For people who make millions of dollars, they don’t live like it. Some live in relatively upscale neighborhoods, but a lot of you are their neighbors. You see them in Harris Teeter, Panera or Target, and except for a quick greeting, you leave them alone.

That’s what’s special here. People who live here understand that athletes generally don’t want a fuss made over them. That happens at the ballpark, not at the grocery store.

In 2014, Davis was struggling, but even when his average was under .200, as it was for much of the season, the fans didn’t boo him. They cheered.

Players who played long and well here are usually greeted warmly when they return. Nick Markakis’ ovation last July was a hearty one.

Markakis really didn’t want to leave the Orioles. He had no choice, but his family remained, and like you, he’s probably figuring out how to get this driveway and sidewalk shoveled.

There are exceptions, of course. Mike Mussina is regarded as a traitor by many for signing with the Yankees, and overshadowing the debate about his Hall of Fame qualifications, is a more important question.

What hat should he wear on his Hall of Fame plaque?

Mussina is a Hall of Famer, but too many, if he “goes in as a Yankee,” is the paramount issue. Had he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers instead, it wouldn’t have been as big an issue.

Frank Robinson spent more of his career away from Baltimore than in it, but he still regards himself as an Oriole. Davey Johnson managed the Mets to a World Series, but Baltimore is special to him, too.

Orioles fans here aren’t as demanding as perhaps Ravens fans are even though many who root for one team pull for the other.

In 2012, fans would have been satisfied with the team simply breaking its streak of 14 losing seasons. The Orioles did much better, and if the team returns to the sub-.500 neighborhood in 2016, that will be a disappointment.

But, while they’d love to see their first World Series in 33 years, they’re realistic. Contention would be fine for most of them.

It’s been an unusual off-season around here. The Ravens played poorly, and were out of the playoff conversation not long after the Orioles season ended.

That only intensified the pressure on the team to bring Davis back. There were no postseason games with the Patriots or Steelers to get excited about, just the worry that the slugger would go elsewhere.

Davis, O’Day, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones are all very different people with different personalities. Each had their own reason for signing here.

Hardy didn’t want the uncertainty of going to free agency and can live and work quietly.

Like Hardy, Jones probably could have gotten more on the open market, but in May 2012, saw that the team was heading in the right direction and took an offer to his liking. He likes the attention, doesn’t mind being bothered when he’s out and about, and willingly speaks for his teammates to the media when times get rough.

O’Day had family reasons for wanting to be in the area, but the Orioles hardly took that for granted. They gave him an appealing offer to stay.

Davis? His contract is nearly double Jones’, and he knows there will be pressure and high expectations. If he hits 40 home runs a few times during the seven years of his contract, fans will be happy.

If he doesn’t, they’ll always remember him pitching at Fenway Park.

[RELATED: Davis signing keys productive winter, but is it enough?]

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."


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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm