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For Orioles, many reasons to be happy, but some concerns as well


For Orioles, many reasons to be happy, but some concerns as well

Through the season’s first two weeks, there are many reasons for the Orioles to be pleased, and a few to be concerned about.

With 11 games played, two fewer than originally scheduled, they have an 8-3 record, which is the best in the American League.

Their offensive numbers are terrific. They lead the league in home runs (23), batting average (.291), on-base percentage (.354), slugging percentage (.540) and OPS (.894).

The Orioles are second in runs (60) and hits (109).

That’s all great, especially the OBP, which was a huge disappointment last year at .307.

They’re not going to have an OBP this high all season long, and they’re probably not going to average more than two home runs per game all year, but they have skilled hitters who seemingly thrive among other skilled hitters.

Their younger hitters are improving.

Jonathan Schoop is still a very aggressive hitter, but in 85 games last year, walked just nine times and struck out 79. So far, he’s walked twice and struck out seven times. That’s not a game changer, but it’s a subtle change. If he can keep improving that, he’ll be a much more dangerous hitter.

Through 10 games, J.J. Hardy, another historically aggressive hitter has a .333 OBP. He’s never had an on-base percentage above .310 in his first five seasons with the Orioles.

While Matt Wieters (.233) and Pedro Alvarez (.167), haven’t been hitting as well as the Orioles would like, their OBPs (.324 for Wieters, .355 for Alvarez) suggest they’re not hurting the lineup as much as commonly believed.

Everyone knows about the great starts for Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo. Machado has hit in each of his first 11 games, and Trumbo had five home runs last week and sports a .386 average.

Adam Jones, who missed a week’s worth of at-bats, has just a .208 average, and while Rule 5 draft choice Joey Rickard had a hot start, his OBP of .320 is lower than you’ll want for a leadoff man. He’s struck out 10 times and walked just twice.

All this great hitting has helped cover up deficiencies from the rotation, which has a 5.14 ERA.


Yovani Gallardo’s start on Saturday night was decent, but he gave up two runs in the seventh. Gallardo hasn’t gotten an out in the seventh in his last 20 starts, and manager Buck Showalter, chafing at the number of truncated outings from the rotation, felt he needed to force a starter to get some outs in the seventh.

Only one starter, Ubaldo Jimenez has completed seven, and two more, Gallardo and Vance Worley have finished six.

In order to be successful, the Orioles starters are probably going to have to average at least six innings.

For the most part, the bullpen has been tremendous. Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Dylan Bundy, Darren O’Day and Tyler Wilson have combined to allow two earned runs in 27 innings for a sparkling 0.67 ERA.

Only Mychal Givens and T.J. McFarland, who both faltered in Saturday night’s game, have disappointed.

Givens, who was spectacular late last year, hasn’t been nearly as good this season. He’s given up nine hits in 5 2/3. While he’s struck out 13 batters, more than anyone on the staff but Ubaldo Jimenez, Givens has been allowing far too many runners on base.

If that trend continues, Givens, who along with Wilson are the only relievers with options, may make his first visit to Norfolk.

The infield defense has been superlative. Wonderful plays, both the jaw dropping and the heady ones, have highlighted the first two weeks.

Trumbo, who has committed two errors in nine games, has been a concern, but with his power numbers, his outfield play may be overlooked.

One of the most interesting trends has been Showalter’s use of Hyun Soo Kim. Showalter has been looking for places to spot him, and in eight plate appearances, he’s gotten on base five times.

Most impressive was a pinch hit on Thursday night in a game the Orioles trailed. Surely, Kim — who was known as a most durable player in South Korea — didn’t get many pinch hitting opportunities there, and has adapted to his new role.

Last year, it seemed the Orioles often wilted in late innings against superior bullpens, and in their three losses, that seems to be the case this year, too.

In those losses, they haven’t scored against opponents’ relievers in 10 2/3, managing just four hits and two walks. They’ve struck out 12 times.

A challenging stretch awaits. Defending AL East champs Toronto arrives for three games beginning Tuesday night, and the Orioles have a six-game road trip in Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

In 2015, the Orioles lost 15 of 26 to the Blue Jays and Royals and won 10 of 19 against the Rays.

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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

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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