The time of year we all wish for is finally here. No not new episodes of The Walking Dead. (Although I am extremely excited about that.) Spring Training is in full stride and that means our boys of summer are getting ready for the long grind that is the 2016 MLB season. The Orioles have not exactly had a bright start to Spring Training as their loss to the Rays last night dropped their spring record to 0-6. In talking to a few of my fellow fans, panic and pessimism is starting to sneak into the discussion and we’re not even past St. Patrick’s Day.
The first issue most will take note in is the starting pitching. The good thing about spring training is that the numbers don’t count. That’s all well and good, but when two parts of your starting rotation have a combined ERA higher than Einstein’s IQ, you tend to start breathing a little heavy. When no major improvements were made and all hope is being put into the exact same staff as last year, every bad outing is going to be analyzed to the nth degree by every fan.
Injuries happen every day in sports. Who it happens to truly decides how much trouble a team will already be in. Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, and Jimmy Paredes have all felt the bug’s painful sting early in camp. Tilly is the least concerning of all of them as his hip flexor is on the mend and he is slated to make his Spring Training debut very soon. Brian Matusz is one cause for concern as he is the lone Lefty Specialist in the bullpen. He had surgery after the season ended and the muscle strain he is experiencing is on the same side his intercostal muscle gave him fits just a few seasons ago. While he takes the next week off to rest, the most serious of injuries may actually be the most beneficial. Switch hitting INF/OF Jimmy Paredes may have a stress fracture in his wrist. I say beneficial because given the amount of bench options this team has, starting on the DL may be Paredes’s only chance at staying with this team.
I bring all of this up though to say one thing, It’s gonna be ok. Just as we’ve learned over the years, just because somebody has a good spring doesn’t mean the regular season will translate. Or hopefully in our case, vice versa. Ubaldo showed a trend in the right direction last year, let’s look for that to continue. Miguel Gonzalez had injuries to blame for an uncharacteristic season. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he will trend closer towards the consistent pitcher he always has been since he put on the orange and black.
We still have a way to go before the start of the season. Don’t put away the jerseys yet folks. This is going to be a fun year at Oriole Park. You just need to be there to watch it.