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Which spring training invitees can make the Orioles?

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Which spring training invitees can make the Orioles?

Every year, the Orioles invite between 15 and 20 players who aren’t on the major league roster to spring training. Despite some fans thinking incorrectly that this exercise is a substitute for authentic team building, it’s actually a vital part of putting a team together.

Norfolk and Bowie need competitive teams, too and that’s not for cosmetic reasons. Promising young players need to learn how to win, and sometimes veteran players who have major league experience can help.

That was the case a year ago when Paul Janish, who signed a minor league contract with the team was a key factor in helping young pitchers at Norfolk. His defense at shortstop was superb, and when J.J. Hardy was injured in late August, Janish’s contract was purchased.

Janish is back again this year on a minor league deal, and if there’s an injury to an infielder during spring training, he’ll have a good chance to make the Opening Day roster.

Otherwise, he’ll go back to the Tides and again solidify the team’s defense.

Last year, Nolan Reimold returned to the team on a minor league contract. He had a solid first two months of the season at Norfolk and played well enough the rest of the season to earn a major league contract for this year.

Chaz Roe came to camp last year with some major league time with the Yankees and Diamondbacks. He stayed around until late in camp, and two months later was back in the big leagues.

Roe stayed around, too and will compete for one of the final spots in the bullpen.

Dariel Alvarez was invited, too, but he didn’t have enough minor league service time to need to be placed on the 40-man. He came up to the team in late August.

Steve Johnson, Ryan Lavarnway and Chris Parmelee also saw time on the major league roster in 2015.

If seven of the 17 players who were invited on Monday play for the Orioles in 2016, that’s hardly a wasted exercise.

Two of the 17 fall into the Alvarez category: Hunter Harvey, who came in for a look last year before a series of injuries prevented him from playing at all last year, and Trey Mancini, who led the Eastern League in batting.

A pair of young catchers, Chance Cisco and Jonah Heim, are also on hand, but they’re not likely to see big league action any time soon.

This year’s Chaz Roe could be Jeff Beliveau, an intriguing left-hander with lots of major league experience with the Cubs and Rays. Beliveau had surgery on his labrum last April, and did some throwing at last month’s minicamp.

Of course, Janish is the favorite to be this year’s Janish. He’s joined by Ozzie Martinez, who wasn’t in big league camp last year, but was signed to help solidify Bowie’s defense. He did that, and the Orioles will get a longer look this year.

An old friend, Steve Tolleson, will show up. Tolleson likely has a post-playing future in coaching, and pitchers in Norfolk would be lucky if they had a double play combination of Tolleson and Janish behind them.

Last year, Cesar Cabral was signed to a minor league contract, but he spent his team at Twin Lakes instead of the Ed Smith Stadium complex.

Cabral had two brief appearances in early June, and he’ll come to major league camp.

A year ago, Mychal Givens didn’t even merit an invitation to major league camp, but was summoned when the team was short. One of his Bowie teammates, Ashur Tolliver, who was drafted in 2009, finally gets his chance to impress the team. It doesn’t hurt that Tolliver is a left-hander.

Xavier Avery and L.J. Hoes have returned to the organization. Along with Alfredo Marte, they have big league experience, but probably don’t have much chance of cracking the roster—at least initially. Marte was assigned No. 80, the highest number for any players.

Pitchers Pedro Beato, Andy Oliver and Todd Redmond and catcher Audry Perez also have big league experience, but seemingly a long road to the Orioles.

Not all the players invited to camp make much of an impression. Last year’s invitees included J.P. Arencibia, Mark Hendrickson, Dane De La Rosa, Jayson Nix and Matt Tuiasosopo. All were big leaguers at one time, but none came within weeks of making the Orioles.

Hendrickson was 40, and a new grandfather. He was always great to talk to as he discussed his family, transitioning to a sidearmer and life in the NBA. Like Pat Connaughton, Hendrickson was a two-sport guy, and after a decent NBA career, had a long major league career.

He retired in mid-March. The Orioles won’t have any grandfathers this spring, but there’ll be a lot of good stories from them beginning in nine days.

RELATED: The sad story of former Oriole Delmon Young

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Rainout delays Orioles RHP Cobb's reunion with Rays

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USA TODAY Sports

Rainout delays Orioles RHP Cobb's reunion with Rays

BALTIMORE -- The Tampa Bay Rays have to wait at least one more day before taking their swings against former teammate Alex Cobb.

Cobb, now with the Baltimore Orioles, was scheduled to face his old team on Tuesday night before the game was postponed by rain.

Thus, Cobb will start Wednesday in the delayed start of this series between the only two AL East teams with losing records.

The rainout will be made up as part of single-admission doubleheader on May 12.

It was the 27th major league game to be postponed this season, the most related to weather through April since the commissioner's office started keeping records in 1986. Detroit's game at Pittsburgh was washed out later Tuesday, raising the total to 28.

Cobb, 30, spent his entire career with the Rays before signing with Baltimore as a free agent on March 21. Over six years with Tampa Bay, the right-hander was 48-35 and one of the leaders of the staff.

"He was a crucial part to this organization's success," Rays starter Chris Archer said. "He's a big-game pitcher and somebody who's very consistent, very routine oriented. The competitive nature rubbed off on me and rubbed off on the other guys in this clubhouse as well."

Cobb signed a $57 million, four-year deal with the Orioles, who will be counting on him to deliver the same kind of pitching and leadership in Baltimore.

Thus far, it hasn't gone well. Cobb got off to a late start because he missed most of spring training, and since his return he's gone 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA.

"Abbreviation has affected that," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He's going to get going here. Hopefully he can wait one more start before he does."

Brad Miller was down to bat cleanup for the Rays on Tuesday night before the game was called. Miller knew better than to chat with his old friend beforehand.

"Definitely wouldn't talk to him on his start days," Miller said. "Thought about maybe texting him just to rattle him a little bit, but ... ."

Miller won't know what to think when he sees Cobb wearing the orange and black of the Orioles.

"It's definitely going to be weird seeing him on the mound," Miller said. "I miss Cobb a lot. He was the ultimate competitor."

And that, Miller contends, is what sets Cobb apart from most pitchers.

"He's a bulldog. Really intense, kind of an old-school throwback starting pitcher," Miller said. "He's going to go out there and do anything he can for his team. So that, for me, is obviously his biggest trait."

The rainout came at an opportune time for the Orioles, who are hampered by injuries and have lost nine of 10 games to fall 11 games under .500 (6-17).

Baltimore's projected starting lineup did not include infielder Tim Beckham, who's been bothered by a groin injury and is expected to land on the 10-day disabled list.

With Beckham out and Trey Mancini playing with a tender right knee, manager Buck Showalter would have been operating with a short bench.

Help is on the way: Baltimore claimed utility infielder Jace Peterson on waivers from the New York Yankees. He's expected to arrive Wednesday.

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Indians' 14-hit victory hands Orioles 8th loss in 9 games

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USA TODAY Sports

Indians' 14-hit victory hands Orioles 8th loss in 9 games

BALTIMORE — The Cleveland Indians figured it would only be a matter of time before their struggling offense provided some support to a solid starting rotation.

Jose Ramirez and the rest of the batting order finally got into a groove Sunday, and the result was a 14-hit attack that carried Corey Kluber and the Indians past the Baltimore Orioles 7-3.

Cleveland came into the game with a .211 team batting average and ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs scored. On this day, however, Ramirez hit a solo shot in the fourth inning and a two-run drive in the ninth, and Yan Gomes had three hits to lift his batting average 41 points to .261.

"When things are not going my way, I stay positive and work it," Ramirez said through a translator. "I know eventually I'm going to break out."

Ramirez has three homers in two games and a team-leading seven for the season.

"I try not to do too much," Ramirez said. "I just look for a good pitch and then I hit it somewhere."

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Kluber yielded two home runs to Manny Machado, but the Indians twice came from behind before tacking on three runs in the ninth.

"I thought we did a pretty good job," manager Terry Francona said. "When they came back, we came back at them. We kept pushing and took some better swings."

Kluber (3-1) allowed three runs and six hits over seven-plus innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner walked none and struck out four to move past Charles Nagy into sixth place on the Indians' career strikeout list with 1,238.

"It doesn't matter if you feel you pitched well or didn't pitch well. The goal is to end the game with more runs they do," Kluber said. "That's what we did."

Machado's third multihomer game of the season wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles from losing for the ninth time in 10 games, a skid that has dropped them 10 games under .500 (6-16).

"You know what? There's no excuse for what's happening," Machado said. "We need to play better overall. Nobody is in here pointing fingers. We are in here together, and we are going to ride or die together."

Andrew Cashner (1-3) gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings, walking two and striking out seven. He's 0-3 with 7.41 ERA in three lifetime appearances against the Indians.

After Machado connected in the first inning, Cleveland went up 2-1 in the fourth when Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso hit successive doubles following a leadoff homer by Ramirez.

Baltimore regained the lead in the bottom half. After Machado homered, Adam Jones doubled and scored on a single by Chris Davis.

A pair of walks and run-scoring singles by Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley put the Indians up 4-3 in the fifth.

"Once you get the lead, you can't give it up," Cashner lamented.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: CF Bradley Zimmer was a late scratch with a mild right ankle sprain. He was replaced by Rajai Davis.

Orioles: LF Trey Mancini missed a second straight game with a swollen right knee. ... DH Mark Trumbo (strained right quad) will begin a three-game stint with Double-A Bowie on Monday, then play three games with Triple-A Norfolk later in the week, manager Buck Showalter said. He won't be rushed to return. "It's important we get it right the first time," Showalter said.

WELL RESTED

Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin threw a side session Saturday and is expected to start Tuesday against the Cubs. Francona opted to skip Tomlin's last scheduled start Wednesday to reset the rotation after Cleveland had two straight games postponed last weekend.

UP NEXT

Indians: Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 3.48 ERA) starts the series finale Monday night. The right-hander is 9-0 with a 1.75 ERA over his past 11 starts since Aug. 27.

Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57) makes his fifth start of the season after allowing 27 hits -- including six homers -- over 21 innings.

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