Three weeks from today, the Orioles will work out for the first time at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium complex, and in a little over a month, the first spring game will be here.
Here are five dates in spring training you’ll want to look for:
1) March 2
The Orioles actually open their spring schedule a day earlier, but they’re taking their longest trip in Florida, about two hours to play Atlanta in Lake Buena Vista.
The Braves come to Sarasota a day later, and while Nick Markakis and Jim Johnson may not make the trip, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bud Norris come over.
Norris signed with Atlanta early in the offseason, and he’d like to forget about 2015.
The Braves make two more trips to Sarasota in the last week of spring training—March 29 and 31, so the former Orioles have a few shots to visit where they used to call home for the spring.
2) March 7
Normally, Buck Showalter likes playing against the Minnesota Twins in March. Hammond Stadium is nice, and legendary George Toma is the groundskeeper.
But, this year it’s different. The Orioles open the season with Minnesota on Apr. 4 and they play the Twins six different times this spring.
Showalter may initially protest, but he’ll likely avoid pitching his first three starters against Minnesota. Instead, he’ll send them to Twin Lakes Park for minor league starts.
However, this is early enough in spring training that if Chris Tillman or Kevin Gausman’s turn comes up, he may think differently.
3) March 8
That’s when the Red Sox make their first of two visits, and the 7,000 seat ballpark is guaranteed to be sold out.
Boston will likely not bring many of its bigger names just as the Orioles rarely take along many of their starters on the road. Fans will be disappointed when Big Papi doesn’t play in Sarasota this year, his final one.
Showalter would prefer to play teams other than the AL East, and this year, Minnesota a great deal in the spring, but the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays are all located within 90 minutes of Sarasota.
4) March 14
Showalter would prefer more games with the nearby Pirates. Their Brandenton ballpark, McKechnie Field is just 20 minutes from Sarasota, but the Orioles only visit there twice. Pittsburgh plays in Sarasota only once.
Philadelphia comes calling on the 14th, and Andy MacPhail, who engineered the move to Sarasota and the redesign of the complex, could pay his first visit there since taking over the Phillies last June.
MacPhail has several former Orioles front office personnel working for him now.
The Phillies don’t have very many big names left, but their biggest, Ryan Howard once hit a long home run to right field.
5) April 1
For the first time since they opened Nationals Park in 2008, the Orioles end their exhibition season with a game in a major league ballpark.
They’ll play at 6:05 p.m. against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
It may be cold and unpleasant, but it could be important. The Orioles may make final cuts on this day.
The next day, Apr. 2 will be an off day, and after a workout on Apr. 3, they’ll open the season against Minnesota at Oriole Park on Apr. 4.
RELATED: New Ray Pearce thanks Orioles fans