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DJ Stewart, Orioles' first rounder in 2015, moves up to Frederick

DJ Stewart, Orioles' first rounder in 2015, moves up to Frederick

FREDERICK, Md. — DJ Stewart has been in professional baseball for nearly a year now. It’s been an interesting year. 

Stewart, who was the Orioles’ first round draft choice in 2015, batted just .218 for Aberdeen, and was hitting .237 with four homers and 15 RBIs at Delmarva when he got the call to join Frederick last week.

In his first five games with the Keys, Stewart is 6-for-19 (.316) and two RBIs. 

“You can always do better,” Stewart said on Monday before his professional debut as a center fielder. “Of course, I would like to hit a lot better…I’m learning a lot about pro ball.” 

Stewart was drafted out of Florida State, and at 22, he’s not in a rush.

“I’m happy where I am right now. I’m happy with the progression that I’m making,” he said. “If it was easy, everybody would be in the big leagues, right?” 

It may have seemed like a surprise to some that Stewart was summoned to Frederick. He wasn’t surprised. 

“That’s one thing our coaches talk to us about. Always be ready. You’re one call from moving up,” Stewart said. “Prepare yourself as if you’re going to be in the big leagues the next day.” 

Stewart’s transition from a big time college program to low level professional ball hasn’t been easy. 

“A lot of times, I try to do more than just be myself. You try to live up to expectations of being a first-rounder, I guess instead of sticking to who you are and what you do and try to drive the ball wherever it’s pitched instead of trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark every single time,” Stewart said. 

While he has a .228 professional batting average, he’s shown great patience. His on-base percentage is exactly 100 points higher than his batting average. 

Stewart says that because prior to entering pro ball, he was always leading off. 

“You first at-bat, you kind of want to see a lot of pitches, let the guy behind you see what the pitcher has,” Stewart said. “That background of leading off has helped me even when I’m not leading off now, draw walks, make the pitcher throw the ball three times in the strike zone.” 

In college, Stewart flew with his team. Now, he’s riding busses. 

“It’s different. You’re getting to a place at six o’clock in the morning,” Stewart. “Getting there at six and playing at seven at night. You have to keep yourself ready the best you can, try to get as much sleep as you can, even if it’s on the bus. Keep your nutrition up.” 

Eating properly is important for Stewart, who uses the offseason to get his body prepared. 

“I got a little taste of it in Aberdeen. You’re not necessarily going to have the best meals available to you,” Stewart said. “Even when you’re making stops at places that aren’t necessarily healthy, try to get the healthiest thing that you can. Balance it out the best way you can.” 

One of Stewart’s highlights in 2016 was getting invited to be a “Just in Case (JIC)” for Buck Showalter during spring training. He had some cameo appearances. 

“It was awesome. It was a dream come true, even though you’re not on the big league roster just to be around those guys, kind of talk to them and pick their brains,” Stewart said. “I got seven or eight innings every single time to watch how they approach the games…I had good talks with Adam Jones during spring training to see if I could learn anything.” 

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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."

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

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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