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Healthier Orioles hope second half is better than first

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Healthier Orioles hope second half is better than first

Perhaps it’s fitting that the Orioles are 44-44 as they pause for the All-Star break. That’s because the first half of the season lacked definition. They weren’t good, except for a three week stretch where they won 18 of 23, and they weren’t bad, not even over the last two weeks when they lost 10 of 13.

They’re in third place in the AL East, four games behind the New York Yankees and 3 ½ games out of the second wild card.

There’s plenty of time for them, but isn’t that what we thought in 2013?

It was two years ago, the season that’s been forgotten, that the Orioles headed into the All-Star break at 53-43 and won their first four games afterward, and then floundered.

They ended the season 85-77, a good season, to be sure, but not up to 2012 or 2014.

Could 2015 be similar?

Take away the 18-5, and the Orioles are 26-39. Surely one good stretch isn’t going to win this team the American League East, even if the division looks substandard.

They need at least two substantial runs in the second half to play beyond Oct. 4.

The first half was marred by injuries and remembered because of the disruption caused by the riots.

On Sunday, manager Buck Showalter referred to some of those who were on the disabled list, Kevin Gausman, J.J. Hardy, Jonathan Schoop and Matt Wieters were all out for significant time.

“I try to keep in mind we had four or five guys who were missing that we have back now. Whether It be Jonathan or Matt or J.J., Adam [Jones] was down for a while, Gausman has been out for a while. I try to stay on the positive side of that, that knock on wood they're going to be there for us where we didn't have them. We had some good people come in and keep us engaged in the competition and we're there,” Showalter said.

The team is healthy now. Only Jason Garcia, a little-used Rule 5 draft pick and Wesley Wright, who the team has room for, are currently on the DL.

A decision on Wright could be coming shortly, but there seems to be little chance that he’ll be a second half contributor. After more than three months on the disabled list, Wright has horrifying numbers in Norfolk, and the Orioles have several others they’d rather have in their bullpen.

There were a few surprise contributors to the team: Jimmy Paredes and Chaz Roe have helped enormously, but several who were counted on for big roles have disappointed.

Besides Wright, who the team signed for $1.7 million, Everth Cabrera, Alejandro De Aza and Delmon Young are all gone. The Orioles will end up paying $4 million of De Aza’s $5 million contract, and combined with Cabrera ($2.4 million) and Young ($2.25 million), the team will pay more than $10 million for little production.

That’s approaching 10 percent of the team’s Opening Day payroll.

Because of that dead money, it’s questionable how much they’ll be able to spend to add players before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

While there’s publicly no worry about the key players who’ll likely depart due to free agency, the team can’t trade away some of its best younger prospects because some of them are going to be needed as replacements next year.

There’s little or no likelihood Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis or Matt Wieters return next year, but they can’t be traded for prospects because the team is in the race, and they’re playing key roles.

At the break, there are eight teams 10 or more games out of first place, and just two in the American League. Most of the other 22 teams think they have a chance to contend. That’s a lot of competition for players who could be traded.

Showalter was being realistic when he referred to the second half on Sunday.

“I look at all the answers we're going to need are in our locker room and in our organization. I'm very confident in the people we have,” Showalter said.

Many of these players have been through three races, and shown they can perform well under adverse circumstances. With Hardy, Jones, Schoop and Wieters healthy, they’ll look for better things.

“It’s time to focus, time to put that head down and ride it out and get into July, August and ride into September,” Jones said.

They’ll take these four days off and start again on Friday.

“I want these guys to get as far away from it as they can, take some pride in the way they've competed and knowing that it's still there for them,” Showalter said. “A lot of baseball left and we're engaged in the competition and will continue to be.”

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

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 hecticfew 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

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract on Thursday after searching for starting pitching all offseason.

The 31-year-old Cashner is 42-64 with a 3.80 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego, Miami and Texas, including 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rangers last year. The deal with the Orioles has an option for 2020.

He'll join right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.

"I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out and my job is to come here and pitch and win," Cashner said.

Cashner's deal could be worth $41 million over three seasons if he pitches 200 innings annually. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Jan. 15 from 2020 through 2021.

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Cashner has salaries of $5 million this season and $8 million in 2019, and there is a $10 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he pitches 340 innings combined in the next two seasons. If he reaches 360 innings, it would become a player option.

He can make $5 million in performance bonuses each year.

There are $1,525,000 per season in bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 10 and 15, $625,000 for 20 and $400,000 for 30.

Cashner also can make $3,475,000 each year based on innings: $250,000 each for 110 and 120, $275,000 for 130, $350,000 for 140, $750,000 for 150 and $400,000 apiece for 170, 180, 190 and 200.

Cashner was at the Orioles' spring training facility, and was due to head to his Texas home for a few days before returning on Sunday when Baltimore's full squad is required to report. He'll likely work out with the team for the first time Monday.

He has little experience against the Orioles, but said he was excited to join the team.

"It's a lineup you can't really make a lot of mistakes against," Cashner said. "It's a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch (for) San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It's one of my favorite places to pitch, so I'm looking forward to making that my home (stadium) every night."

RELATED: ORIOLES TO SHUFFLE UP INFIELD AHEAD OF MACHADO'S FINAL SEASON

Manager Buck Showalter said Cashner would be an ideal addition to the club.

"He's a veteran starter. That's a good deal for both us and him," Showalter said. "He's a guy who's pitched well in the American League. That's something that I think played in his favor."

Cashner said that he began negotiations with Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson last fall and in a challenging offseason for free agents, he said patience was vital.

"I don't think it's been difficult. It's been interesting. It's been different," Cashner said.

To make room for Cashner on the 40-man roster, Baltimore placed left-hander Zach Britton (Achilles) on the 60-day disabled list.