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Who should Orioles fans root for in the playoffs? A handy guide

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Who should Orioles fans root for in the playoffs? A handy guide

The New York Yankees looked lifeless in their three losses to the Orioles this past weekend. So, it wasn’t a surprise that they looked inept in Tuesday’s night’s wild card game.

Orioles fans couldn’t care less about the Houston Astros. They’ve only been in the American League for three seasons and really have no players in common with the Orioles.

But, the Astros were playing the Yankees, and lots of Orioles fans are a bit happier this morning.

Of the four remaining teams in the American League, the Orioles have the least familiarity with the current Astros. They last played them four months ago before, just a few days before possible AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa debuted. Carlos Gomez didn’t arrive until the trading deadline.

The only former Oriole on the team was Scott Feldman, who spent the second half of 2013 in Baltimore, and Feldman is currently hurt.

Setup man Pat Neshek was in spring training with the team in 2012, making a good impression and spent several months in Norfolk before exercising an opt-out clause.

And there’s Colby Rasmus, who Buck Showalter personally pursued in January. Showalter decided that Rasmus would fit in with the Orioles, but the enigmatic slugger took a better offer from Houston.

Rasmus had 25 home runs and hit another in the Astros’ 3-0 win.

Houston goes on to play the Kansas City Royals. The Orioles developed a healthy disdain for the Royals last season, and it continued this year.

Kansas City swept the Orioles in four games in last year’s ALCS and took three of four in K.C. in August. The Orioles won two of three from the Royals last month.

Two of the Orioles’ three wins came against Johnny Cueto, who they faced for the first time, and is likely to be a prized free agent this off-season.

Jeremy Guthrie, whom Cueto displaced from the rotation, is a former Oriole, who irked his onetime team by wearing a T-shirt denigrating them to an interview session during last year’s ALCS.

The Royals were last year’s feisty underdog, and were within an eyelash of winning the World Series. This year, last year’s wild-card winners had the best record in the American League.

The Orioles have recent experience with the two other AL playoff teams: the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.

The Rangers took six of seven between the two teams, including a three-game sweep at the end of August.

The Blue Jays clinched the AL East in Baltimore a week ago with a 15-2 humiliation of the Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader. That loss had manager Buck Showalter seething afterward. It was the Orioles’ final loss of the season. They ended with two wins over Toronto and three against the Yankees.

The AL Division Series begin Thursday. Tonight, it’s the National League wild card game. The matchup between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, which has been assumed for weeks, has more than a little attraction for Orioles fans.

Jake Arrieta, who the Orioles traded for Feldman, starts for Chicago. Arrieta won 22 games for the Cubs, including a no-hitter against the Dodgers, and a one-hit, seven inning performance at Wrigley Field 10 days ago.

Many Orioles fans have warm feelings for Arrieta, who failed to live up to his promise here, and for lack of a team to root for in the playoffs, will be pulling for him.

Tommy Hunter, a very popular Oriole for four years, is with the Cubs, too. So is Jason Hammel, who was acquired from Colorado for Guthrie. Hammel won key games for the Orioles in 2012.

Pedro Strop, another well-liked reliever, who went to the Cubs along with Arrieta, is there. So is Tsuyoshi Wada, who had Tommy John surgery not long after signing a two-year contract with the Orioles.

Several players who’ve had cameos in recent Orioles history are on the Pirates roster. Travis Ishikawa, who was briefly with the team in 2013, is on hand. So is Michael Morse, who finished up 2013 in Baltimore.

Who can forget Travis Snider, who was supposed to replace Nick Markakis in right field? Snider was a huge disappointment before the Orioles let him go in August. The Pirates picked him up, and he played 18 games.

Pedro Florimon, a once highly touted Orioles prospect who played four games in 2011, played for Pittsburgh this year. So did Steve Lombardozzi, who was on the roster in 2014 while Manny Machado rehabbed. Lombardozzi was hitless in 10 at-bats.

The Orioles see a lot of the Pirates in spring training. The teams’ spring training headquarters are about 20 minutes apart.

MORE ORIOLES: Matusz undergoes successful surgery on shoulder

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

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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

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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 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