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Orioles made right decision to play away this weekend


Orioles made right decision to play away this weekend

It wasn’t a typical spring Friday in Baltimore. Usually, the streets are filled with people, some wearing Orioles garb.  Today I saw only one.

There haven’t been many people walking around downtown, patronizing restaurants or stores. While I would have preferred this weekend’s series against Tampa Bay be at home, the decision to play in St. Petersburg with all the oddities it brings was clearly the right one.

Even though this town is sports crazed, and could use a diversion, we’re probably not ready for games. Wednesday’s empty house was the best solution, and it worked out well, but to have three games with crowds this weekend, was just not the  right thing.

Some fans would have preferred to have the games played in Washington. The Nationals aren’t home, but there were ticketing and staffing issues, and the games may not have drawn very well.

If there were night games, fans from Baltimore couldn’t have attended because they’d have to be back in town by the time the 10 p.m. curfew hits.

It’s best the team is away. At least everyone can have some fun joking about the poor crowds this weekend and the Orioles being the home team.

Seeing the National Guard riding in their armored vehicles or walking the streets with their guns isn’t terribly comforting. It’s alarming, but necessary.

I wish the constant whir of helicopters circling above my house would disappear, but we need them now.

The Orioles don’t have another home game scheduled until May 11. By then, the hope is things will have calmed down.

Fifteen days from now while the team is getting ready to play the Angels, the biggest sporting event in Baltimore, the Preakness, is scheduled.

That day requires an enormous police presence. Well over 100,000 fans crowd Pimlico, and it’s a big money maker for the city’s hotel and restaurant business, businesses that have taken a huge hit this week.

The Orioles have in effect lost five home games this week. There are 18,000 general admission seats in the lower bowl of Tropicana Field on sale for this weekend’s series.

Had the events of the past week not occurred, perhaps 100,000 fans would have been at the ballpark. The guess here is that maybe 10,000 show up this weekend.

As a longtime Baltimorean, I can only hope that baseball fans, conventioneers and other tourists aren’t scared away from the wonderful ballpark and our unique and diverse city.

But, that’s the optimist in me. Sadly, I know that it’s bound to have at least some effect.

Watching the Orioles play is my job, and a huge part of my life, but I’ll not be in St. Petersburg this weekend. I would have liked to have been there for the strangeness and the easy jokes my colleagues and I would make.

I’ll be viewing on TV, eager to focus on something else.

RELATED: [Orioles will be home in St. Petersburg this weekend]

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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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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."