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As the snow falls, it's time to think about Sarasota


As the snow falls, it's time to think about Sarasota

The Orioles began selling tickets to spring training games on Saturday morning, and with the area snowbound for the time being, it’s nice to think about something a little warmer.

Sarasota, where the Orioles train, can be warm in March. It can also be cold.

Last year, they had their warmest March on record, but as pitchers and catchers reported in February, the temperature reached freezing for the first time in years.

Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 18, position players five days later, and the Grapefruit League season begins a week later as the Orioles visit the Atlanta Braves at Disney World.

The Braves have former Orioles Jim Johnson, Nick Markakis and Bud Norris, and will play at Ed Smith Stadium on March 2 in the first of 16 home games.

Because there are 15 teams in Florida, each team must play two split-squad games. The Orioles have split-squad games on March 5 and 17. Their home games on those dates are both at night.

Fans of the Red Sox and Yankees flock to Sarasota for a glimpse of their favorite teams, and they’re inevitably disappointed. For first timers, teams rarely send their front line players on the road, especially early in spring training.

So, if you’d like to see the Orioles play on the road in spring training, you’re likely to see a lot of Ryan Flaherty, Caleb Joseph, Nolan Reimold and Christian Walker. You won’t see much of Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters.

Exceptions may be made on March 22 and 27 when the Orioles play against the Twins in Fort Myers and the Pirates in nearby Bradenton.

Buck Showalter likes the field at Hammond Stadium because it’s maintained by the legendary groundskeeper George Toma, and Pittsburgh plays just 20 minutes away from Sarasota.

The Orioles’ longest trip will be their first game, two hours away. Unlike last season, there are no trips to Jupiter, across the state, or to Lakeland, where the Tigers play.

Detroit does come to Sarasota in the last week of spring training.

Most games are played at 1:05 p.m.—home and away. The Orioles will play two home games at 7:05 p.m. Those are the split-squad games and three at 6:05 p.m. Those three come in the last week of spring training, at Pittsburgh, and at home on March 29 and 30 with Atlanta and Detroit.

If you’re coming in the first 10 days of spring training, home games will feature regulars for perhaps five innings. Starting pitchers are scheduled for two innings in their first start, three in the second, and the sixth-ninth innings are the time for players many are unfamiliar with.

But, pay attention because come the second half of the season, you may be seeing them.

Last year, Mychal Givens wasn’t even a spring training invitee. He was used as an emergency pitcher, and now he’s a mainstay.

Chaz Roe was a pitcher who threw in the late innings, and by May, he was in Baltimore.

The Orioles end this year’s Sarasota run on March 31 and fly to Philadelphia the following day for a 6:05 p.m. game against the Phillies.

It will be slightly warmer in Philadelphia on Apr. 1 and much warmer in Sarasota than it is here today.

[RELATED: Is it time for Orioles to forget Gallardo?]

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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

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 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