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Orioles' prospect killed in motorcycle accident

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Orioles' prospect killed in motorcycle accident

Ramon Ramirez, a 23-year-old infielder in the Orioles’ minor league system, was killed in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic on Saturday evening.

Ramirez was signed by the team as a non-drafted free agent in 2014 and played with the Orioles’ Dominican Summer League team that year.

In 2015, Ramirez hit .143 in 23 games with Gulf Coast, Aberdeen and Frederick.

“Our entire organization is deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic death of Ramon Ramirez. As a member of the Orioles organization, Ramon worked tirelessly to make the most of his opportunity to play professional baseball. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, teammates, and coaches as we mourn this unimaginable loss,” Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said in a statement.
 

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Manny Machado adds 'another great Camden Yards memory' in his first trip back to Baltimore

Manny Machado adds 'another great Camden Yards memory' in his first trip back to Baltimore

Fans at Camden Yards were happy to shower Manny Machado with love upon his return to Baltimore, and the longtime Oriole was eternally grateful for it.

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything, but they go above and beyond,” Machado told reporters after the game. “It was truly special and something that I’ll never forget. It was just amazing, how they played that video up there, and you know fans giving me the standing ‘O’, it just tells you everything about the fanbase here, and what we did here.”

Today was just the latest in a long line of great moments Machado has had in Baltimore, something he was very aware of.

“It’s just incredible how things happen and how things play out,” the third baseman raved. “Just add another great memory to Camden Yards.”

“Guess it’s just good to be back in Baltimore hitting in this park. Brings back a lot of memories, playing here, you know this is all I’d known for seven years, and to be back here was truly amazing,” he continued.

It wasn’t just Machado who recognized how special the moment was.

“I think it means a lot,” Padres manager Andy Green told the media. “Just being around him, he loves this city, he loves the people in this city. Opportunity to come back here immediately and to do what he did today, the homer, I know it meant a lot to him and his family. It was fun to watch a good person experience a really good day.”

While Machado told reporters before the game he was nervous, that wasn’t what his manager saw.

“I sensed excitement,” Green said matter-of-factly. “From batting practice all the way through the day. It just meant a lot to be back here. He’s a great person when you’re around him, I know you guys know that in this city."

"But he doesn’t always get a great reception in other cities, he gets tough receptions a lot of times, so to see a city that he considers home treat him the way they did today, it meant a lot to me and I’m sure it meant a lot to him as well.”

Machado admitted the nerves did eventually fade for him, but the memories never will.

“The fans kept getting louder and louder, I mean I wasn’t even expecting that,” Machado said when describing the ovation before his first at-bat. “I’ve seen it for many, many years how they’ve gone above and beyond for us, and they did it today. It was very special.”

It was a special day for everyone involved, and in a sport in which player-team reunions can so easily go wrong, it was pretty cool to see one go so right.

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Orioles' past and future intersect during jam-packed day at Camden Yards

Orioles' past and future intersect during jam-packed day at Camden Yards

If you were looking for a moment in Tuesday’s game that exemplified the proverbial passing of the torch in Baltimore, it came early.

In the top of the third inning, past Oriole superstar Manny Machado crushed his 100th career Camden Yards home run. It was especially fitting that the ball traveled far enough (455 feet, to be exact) to land in the *visitor* bullpen.

In the middle of the fourth inning, future Oriole superstar (fingers crossed) Adley Rutschman was introduced to a sea of adoring fans wearing orange and black, a sight the former Oregon State Beaver is all too familiar with.

It was hard to tell which player received the louder ovation. The fact that both players, neither of whom was playing for the Orioles Tuesday night, elicited such receptions highlights the crossroads this franchise finds itself at.

Manager Brandon Hyde spoke to this effect pregame.

“Obviously when the game starts I’m going to try to win the game and go with the guys we have,” Hyde told reporters. “I’m also looking at the big picture. I think everybody is really aware of where we are organizationally. It’s the start of the process we laid out months ago. Anytime we get extremely talented guys in our organization, it’s bright, and it feels good, and there’s excitement. And I totally understand it and I feel that too.”

Fans could be forgiven for forgetting there was even a game to be played Tuesday evening, with the excitement surrounding Rutschman’s introduction and the long-building buzz for Machado’s return coinciding on the same day. That can be true of the state of the franchise overall right now.

It’s easy to talk about top draft picks and high-level prospects in the minors, but there are games going on every night for the big league club as well. But with another historic season taking place on the field, it’s much more appealing to look elsewhere.

Adley Rutschman provides a level of hope fans can’t get from the Major League roster, and Hyde recognizes that.

“We’re just looking to get talent, guys that can be impact players,” Hyde explained. “You don’t want to label a guy or put too much pressure on someone, but obviously he’s done a lot of really good things at the amateur level and we’re really excited to have him in our organization. So there’s a lot of excitement.”

The Orioles manager came to Baltimore from a Chicago Cubs franchise known for developing high-end talent.

“I was the farm director when we drafted Bryant, obviously saw Almora and Baez and all those guys,” Hyde answered when asked how Rutschman compares. “He’s along those lines of being a real mature kid, looking forward to go play, you can tell he’s really excited and we’re obviously looking forward to getting him going and watching him play.”

Of course, it’s not just former Cubs prospects who have provided a template for success Rutschman can follow. Somebody a little closer to home just so happened to be sitting in the third base dugout Tuesday night.

“Just soak it all in, enjoy it all," Manny Machado told the media to laughter when asked what advice he would give Rutschman. "You know I wasn’t a number one overall pick, so it’s different. I mean just enjoy yourself. It’s an opportunity that he worked for his entire life to get to that situation, he finally got drafted by a ballclub...the only advice I can give is to continue to have fun, just enjoy yourself every moment of the way and just keep working as hard as you possibly can to reach your goals. Just because you got picked, one of those goals is scratched off, but there’s so many more to be accomplished. Just keep working as hard as you can to be the best person you can be, the best ballplayer you can be, and everything else will just take care of itself.”

It’s a mature response from a matured player, one who not too long ago found himself in the same position as Rutschman: top prospect for a franchise desperate to field a winner.

Trying to build that winner is GM Mike Elias, who emphasized just how critical bringing in a player like Rutschman is.

“This was the biggest decision this organization is going to make this year, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome,” Elias said Tuesday. “We’re looking for building blocks and found a big piece of that with Adley.”

It’s going to be a few years until Rutschman is able to truly take over the mantle of face of the Orioles. As Hyde reminded the media, “it’s still so far away.”

For now, Rutschman will have to settle for face of the rebuild, a position Machado was all-too-familiar with. 

But even an elongated timeline couldn’t keep Tuesday from feeling like a milestone in the history of the franchise, at the intersection of it’s past, present and future. It was a figurative passing of the torch, if not a literal one.

It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. Fans at the park felt that as they welcomed back Manny Machado with open arms.

And if their warm reception for Adley Rutschman is any indication, they are more than ready to love again.

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