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Here are five important spring dates for Orioles

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Here are five important spring dates for Orioles

Three weeks from today, the Orioles will work out for the first time at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium complex, and in a little over a month, the first spring game will be here.

Here are five dates in spring training you’ll want to look for:

1) March 2

The Orioles actually open their spring schedule a day earlier, but they’re taking their longest trip in Florida, about two hours to play Atlanta in Lake Buena Vista.

The Braves come to Sarasota a day later, and while Nick Markakis and Jim Johnson may not make the trip, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bud Norris come over.

Norris signed with Atlanta early in the offseason, and he’d like to forget about 2015.

The Braves make two more trips to Sarasota in the last week of spring training—March 29 and 31, so the former Orioles have a few shots to visit where they used to call home for the spring.

2) March 7

Normally, Buck Showalter likes playing against the Minnesota Twins in March. Hammond Stadium is nice, and legendary George Toma is the groundskeeper.

But, this year it’s different. The Orioles open the season with Minnesota on Apr. 4 and they play the Twins six different times this spring.

Showalter may initially protest, but he’ll likely avoid pitching his first three starters against Minnesota. Instead, he’ll send them to Twin Lakes Park for minor league starts.

However, this is early enough in spring training that if Chris Tillman or Kevin Gausman’s turn comes up, he may think differently.


3) March 8

That’s when the Red Sox make their first of two visits, and the 7,000 seat ballpark is guaranteed to be sold out.

Boston will likely not bring many of its bigger names just as the Orioles rarely take along many of their starters on the road. Fans will be disappointed when Big Papi doesn’t play in Sarasota this year, his final one.

Showalter would prefer to play teams other than the AL East, and this year, Minnesota a great deal in the spring, but the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays are all located within 90 minutes of Sarasota.

4) March 14

Showalter would prefer more games with the nearby Pirates. Their Brandenton ballpark, McKechnie Field is just 20 minutes from Sarasota, but the Orioles only visit there twice. Pittsburgh plays in Sarasota only once.

Philadelphia comes calling on the 14th, and Andy MacPhail, who engineered the move to Sarasota and the redesign of the complex, could pay his first visit there since taking over the Phillies last June.

MacPhail has several former Orioles front office personnel working for him now.

The Phillies don’t have very many big names left, but their biggest, Ryan Howard once hit a long home run to right field.

5) April 1

For the first time since they opened Nationals Park in 2008, the Orioles end their exhibition season with a game in a major league ballpark.

They’ll play at 6:05 p.m. against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

It may be cold and unpleasant, but it could be important. The Orioles may make final cuts on this day.

The next day, Apr. 2 will be an off day, and after a workout on Apr. 3, they’ll open the season against Minnesota at Oriole Park on Apr. 4.

RELATED: New Ray Pearce thanks Orioles fans

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

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USA TODAY Sports

Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

The Orioles' Manny Machado is the early leader among American League shortstops in the first results of All-Star voting released by Major League Baseball Tuesday.

Machado holds a lead of 110,131 votes over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor. 

No other Orioles' player is on the list, and Adam Jones isn't listed among the top-15 of outfielders. 

The Astros' Carlos Correa was last year’s starting shortstop for the American League, but is in fourth place with 206,707 votes, trailing the Yankees' Didi Gregorius who has 208,583.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 19.

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton has been activated from the disabled list, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Assuming he's finally healthy enough to resume his role as one of the best closers in the big leagues, the question now is: How long will Britton be with the Orioles?

Britton's contract expires after this season, and Baltimore entered play Monday with the worst record in the major leagues (19-45).

So, as he stood in front of his locker and spoke excitedly about his return to the Orioles, Britton conceded that his stay in Baltimore may not extend beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"I want to pitch well and help the team, regardless of our standing or trade discussions," he said.

Asked if the next few weeks might serve as an audition for other teams, Britton replied, "I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that."

Britton made the 2016 AL All-Star team during a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and compiled a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

He fought forearm and knee injuries last season and had only 15 saves. Then, during the winter, he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout.

"When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues," Britton said. "There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame."

Surgery and an intense rehab program under Orioles trainer Brian Ebel enabled the 30-year-old to return sooner than many anticipated.

"The thought that he's a pitcher for us on June 11, that's remarkable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's checked every box to get ready. I don't know what else you could possibly do."

Although Britton will be pitching for a team that's struggled mightily this season, that won't influence the intensity he will bring to the mound.

"I had some injuries the last few years, so I'm looking forward to turning the page on that and just getting back to pitching well," he said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

To adjust the roster for Britton's return, the Orioles placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow strain and moved outfielder Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL.